We Love You, Buttercup!

Buttercup died late last night.

Buttercup was our Siberian hamster. We suspected Buttercup was nearing the end of her life about a week or two ago. Her fur was graying. She was moving much more slowly. She just seemed tired.

Yesterday morning, while I was at the coffee shop reading, Michael IM’ed me saying that Buttercup was dying. I rushed home knowing this would be a painful time for my kids.

When I got home, Cathy was holding Buttercup in her lap. Everyone was around her crying, telling Buttercup how much they loved her. Buttercup could barely lift her head, so the kids hand-fed her snacks and water whenever she would eat.

Buttercup was a great hamster! She had a wonderful temperament. She was just cute all the time. You couldn’t help but laugh and smile as you watched her explore her environment.

So we sat on the couch taking turns holding Buttercup and sharing stories about how she rolled around in her little plastic ball, how she escaped from her cage a few times and explored our home, how she stuffed food in her cheeks, how she came to you when you called her.

We didn’t want Buttercup to die alone. So Cathy fashioned a little nest for her in a denim purse and we took her on our day’s activities. The kids took turns gently carrying the purse, checking on her comfort and giving her food and water.

Moments like yesterday cause me to swell with pride as a dad. My four kids have learned how to love deeply. Buttercup was not just a hamster. She has been a part of our family the last 18 months. They cared for her. They saved what little money they could to buy her special treats. They held her, played with her, laughed at her antics. My kids reflected God’s image onto that little portion of God’s creation.

It still amazes me that in this large world, a tiny hamster could so deeply capture the heart of my children, and in her passing, leave such a gargantuan hurt. My children remind me of a God who mourns the passing of little sparrows.

Last night, before bed, Buttercup was barely breathing. She wouldn’t wake up. We knew this would be her last night with us. So each of us held her, stroked her soft fur, and told her how much we loved her and would miss her. And we cried and prayed and hugged and cried some more. My kids fell asleep crying.

Perhaps the hardest thing as a dad is to watch your children in pain. It tore me up watching my children grieve. Their pain created such an ache in my heart.

As I was getting ready for work early this morning, I cried again, knowing that my children would wake up, rush to Buttercup’s cage, and discover what we all dreaded. And I knew they would cry and grieve again as they prepared for school. And there is nothing I can do to remove the pain. All I can do is be there with them through it all.

So I made this video to help my children remember Buttercup and to help them grieve her passing. But more importantly, I made this video to honor my children and their deep love. And in a way, I made this video to honor a God who creates hamsters and children who love them.

Father, your creation, even in its broken state, displays your goodness and glory. Whether it’s a spectacular sunrise, majestic mountains or the gentleness of a hamster, we see you and know you. May we always be able to respond with deep love.

2 thoughts on “We Love You, Buttercup!

  1. I stumbled onto your blog as I do most, traversing this endless road detouring where ever Google points me.

    At first reading my immediate response was it’s only a hamster for crying out loud. With so much pain and suffering in the world we should be a little more concerned about bigger things than hamsters. But as I read on I could see a fathers love giving his children the greatest gift of all “compassion”. I was deeply moved by the actions of your family and how with unbiased love they cared for their family pet right up to the end.

    I have no children of my own, and prefer to live estranged from society, not for ill or anti-social reason I just prefer it that way. With so much sadness, cruelty and inhumanity in the world today, it is rejuvenating to see that a family is sending so much positve love back into the world.

    God bless you and your family

  2. Hi Alex. Thank you for taking some time and reading about my kids and Buttercup. And thank you for looking beyond the surface of what seems to be fanatic pet-lovers. Debbie and I want our kids to love deeply and we know that means at times they will also grieve deeply. We hope they will always be able to do that as they mature into adults. And so we want to provide a safe place for them to explore deep love. You have truly peered into my heart concerning this post. I want my kids to experience and give compassion.

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