He escaped again. For some reason, of late, Snappy the Red-eared Slider was no longer happy in his aquarium on my granddaughter's dresser. He wasn't satisfied with greeting their fingers as soon as they came near his glass case. It was so cute to watch him tread water and open his mouth the moment he saw their fingers with dried food squiggles.
Snappy began his life with Abby and Brooklyn, when they were just three and seven and he was little more than the size of a quarter. (A story I've shared before.)
Snappy was instrumental in adding to my older granddaughter, Brooklyn's faith when she was just 7. She and Abby were playing with him one day. As children are common to do, they got distracted by something else, and forgot about leaving Snappy on her bed. When they remembered, he'd simply disappeared. They searched and searched for him. Brooklyn was devastated. She was certain their dog, Allie, had found him and eaten or killed him. She was so worried she called me. I assured her that her chihuahua had not eaten Snappy and said I'd pray about it. Within a few minutes, she called back and told me her mother had found Snappy beneath the bed in the corner of the wall. Immediately she announced that she knew it was God, because she had just prayed that they'd find him and her mother came out and announced she had.
FAST-FORWARD Seven Years:
Snappy recently became rather testy about his environment. He wasn't happy to stay in the plastic rectangle tub my granddaughter, Abby, had placed him in to await daily visits and water-changes and feedings. He wanted more. He wanted to explore the carpet. She'd taken him out of his larger aquarium because it was getting dirty too quickly and very difficult to keep clean. Snappy had grown closer to the size of an I-Hop pancake and his water got dirty much faster than when he was tiny. Again and again he'd escape and Abby would find him trying to climb her bookshelves. Did he want to read?
About two months ago, Abby called and asked me if I thought they should let him go free into the turtle-friend pond near her home or if I wanted him. I thought seriously about it. I did want to keep him...but, I asked which she thought would be better for Snappy. She chose freedom. Thus a couple of weeks ago--when I arrived to pick-up Abby for a weekend visit--she wanted to know if we could take him to the turtle-pond that very day. It was a beautiful day in Texas. I took my camera and we fed Snappy some food. We placed the large plastic rectangle bin into an empty Huggies diaper box to avoid the slosh of water onto my car's carpet.
Emotions warred within me, as Abby battled her own when we got to the park. I was tickled that Abby and Brooklyn saw the wisdom in letting Snappy go to live free in their town's public pond. Yet sadness and sentimentality claimed a portion of my heart as she held his tub and stared at him. After all we'd shared life with Snappy for a very long time. During those nearly 7 years, the girls had diligently cared for him and watched him grow--just as I had watched them grow. We researched red-earred sliders at one point and discovered he could live for 50 years, or more. Because we found him in my daughter's swimming pool, hardly two months after their daddy had died, I think we all kinda connected the two events.
We did exactly what my son would have done, had he been alive when they found him squirming to get out of the pool's filter-drain. We rescued him and vowed to protect him from the world.
At this phase of Snappy's life, I imagine Chad would have built a tiled pond in their back yard, so Snappy could grow happily. He would have gone turtle hunting and brought Snappy some friends. Alas, he wasn't here to build the tile-pond--or to find him friends. So, we did the next best thing. I really didn't want Abby to know the melancholy feelings surging within me as we went through motions of Snappy's release. I made it a great event. We chatted about how wonderful a life he'd now have with his new-found freedom. She told me how clean the pond was because the park-attendants came and cleaned it near the fountain in the center of the pond all the time. She got excited thinking about Snappy meeting other turtles, but wondered if they'd be friendly or mean. I assured her that they would be happy to welcome him into their world. Who wouldn't love Snappy? I told her he'd meet a lady turtle and probably have baby turtles. She'd return to the park some day and see Snappy again with his happy family.
My assurance carried a double meaning for my sweet granddaughter. You see, she is moving soon. Away from the home she's known since she lost her daddy. She'll have to make new friends in a new school. She wonders how they will treat her, too. I am sure all these thoughts were rolling around through her mind, and heart, as she prepared to release her green friend into a strange new world.
Abby gave Snappy his last meal at the park. He ate it all before she showed him his new domain. She placed him on the ground near the edge of the pond and he sat there a moment, then took off faster than lightning into the water. He moved so quickly my camera seized and I missed the shot of him scooting into the pond. At first he popped his head up from beneath the water's surface as if to say thankyou and good-bye. I barely blinked before he dove and submerged himself in the mucky water below. I took some pictures of where he burrowed, barely visible, into the pond's muck. His color matched that of the muddy bottom. Abby dumped some turtle food on the ground near his entry point, and we took a few more photos. As we walked away, the ducks came up and began eating Snappy's food. Abby protested. I assured her that God gave Snappy special instincts to know how to get food from the muck in his world. "He'll provide him food and friends and a happy time."
Abby chattered on and on about this and that while we drove the hour from Texas back to Oklahoma for the weekend. I couldn't help but smile and think how my son was in his new Heavenly home. I felt he was probably cheering us on as Snappy raced into the water and Abby learned a lesson in love. If you love someone, you want the best for them--even when our choices are hard for us to bear. Just as we were free to keep or release Snappy, God gave us the freedom to hold onto him and keep him all to ourselves, or let him go to live in a world where he'd be happier and free to be all he was purposed to be. I think we chose the right path, don't you? selahV [Click on photos to enlarge.]