I picked up the girls from school, and Nia asked how ferrets are as pets. Ever the realist I said, "I've never had one, but I heard they're kind of crazy."
Nia, at age 8, is a realist too, possessing many of her mother's excessess and sensitivities. She replied, "That's bad. You know what happed the last time."
"What happened the last time we had a ferret?" This confused me. We never had a ferret.
"No, the last time we had a crazy you-know-what."
I did know. She meant the mouse. What was his name?
As if she could read minds, she said, "Larry."
"What were the other's names?" I said, for no good reason.
"Sugar, Jerry and Larry," she said. "We got Larry after Jerry died."
Aziza winced when she said, "Jerry died," and made a high pitched, whiny sound. I guess I don't have to mention who was responsible for his untimely passing.
Larry. I knew he was a go-getter when the guy at the petshop had trouble catching him. He was just a white common feeder mouse, used for snake food. I got him because Jerry was resting and receiving his eternal reward, and he was cheap and all I could afford was a two dollar pet.
Larry settled in, but seemed to spend more time exercising on the wheel than his more sedate companion did. It was if he knew freedom was coming.
Finally, freedom set Larry free. He escaped, and went on with his life. He got to hanging around with the wrong mice, and ended up getting snapped up in the mouse trap we reserved for mice we did NOT buy at the pet store. We caught him a few days later, skulking around the dryer, and dragging the trap behind him.
His tail was torn something awful. The men in our house didn't think he'd live. Ken decided to do surgery on him. They severed the wounded tail and cauterized the wound. Larry didn't not appreciate their ministrations. I was told of this only after the fact. Ken and the kids gathered around me.
"We had to do surgery on the mouse."
I act as house mother. My family sees me as something of a cross between a warden, British school mistress, and patron saint. They make these kind of horrifying announcements as a group, wanting penance, and a stern rebuke.
"You did what?" I bellowed with a condemning edge to my tone.
"We had too." Only Ken spoke, but always as we. "He would have died otherwise."
"You did what??"
"We cut if off, and burned the end. But we put a bandaid on it."
"You did what???"
"Who authorized you to do Mouse surgery? Are you a veterinarian, Ken? Are you trained and board certified to practice medicine on mice? Are you crazy???"
They peered at me with 7 pairs of puppy eyes. Instead of giving them Ava Marias, I warned them never to do medical procedures on animals, and sent them on their way.
But poor Larry was a different mouse after tasting freedom (and that awful surgery). He got a little crazy. He brooded as he healed. He sang and moaned mouse freedom songs, and played the harmonica. He grew angry and aggressive. He ran his little tin mouse cup against the railing shouting, "NOOOOOOOOO." He stayed up until all hours of the night with Sugar, smoking cigarettes and reading books we didn't approve of.
It wasn't long before he escaped again, and each time, he became more ruthless. Freedom was too sweet to give up. Before he'd be a slave, he'd be dead inside his grave (those songs grow on you). In the end, he got out and we never caught him again.
We'd see him now and then, and he didn't seem to have hard feelings. His pink eyes would shine at us, and he give his pale white tail a little twist in greeting. I hope it was a greeting! I think he recognized that we were just trying to get the kids a pet. It was better than being snake food, but it wasn't freedom. He forgave us. He started running around with a little brunette, and they had themselves a brood of brown and white babies. He's happy now. We left lots of food on the floor, so he could feed his family. We owed him that.
We set Sugar free, but he didn't have the guts Larry had. He didn't make it free.
Isn't freedom an incredible thing. And it takes so much responsibility. Jesus is our liberator, our surgeon, and our provider. When He sets us free, we are free indeed.
Will we live like Larry? Cherishing liberty, and making the most of it?
Or will we live like Sugar, afraid, and wasting away without a whimper?
In love and liberty,