The day we brought Hrme home, 12 September 2012.
When I got to Issa's room, she had moved his little house to check on him and there was a leg lying not near Hrme, and he was mostly out of his shell. I knew, but I called Brad in to confirm. We exchanged glances again, and Issa looked at us wide-eyed: "Is it what I'm afraid of?"
"Yes, baby, Hrme died."
I held her while she sobbed, reassuring her she had done everything perfectly and Hrme had a great life. He was just old. That's the thing with hermit crabs: you have no idea how old they are when you get them. Littler doesn't mean younger. He had molted and changed shells once with us, which is huge! She had cared for him better than we had any right to expect a six year old to do independently.
The first thing she said: "Do you think he hurt?" I started to cry, too.
"No, baby, I don't think he did."
"He was my friend. I don't want him to die."
"I know. I'm so sorry..."
After a while, she asked if we could bury Hrme in her flower garden, the one she takes care of on her own, and make a headstone for him. Of course. Can she buy a new crab so her room won't be so quiet? She offered to use her own money, and Daddy and I promised to buy one for her. I remember the quiet. I remember when my hamster died and the silence of the wheel at night was deafening. My heart broke for her.
So...today I will take her to get a new crab, and we will all have a funeral for Hrme tonight.
I know Hrme is a hermit crab, but he was so much more. He was her first independent pet, and I felt so helpless last night. I hate that. As a mama I just want to fix it, but I can't. And I know these hard things will help her develop strength and learn how to cope. I just wish they didn't come with the tears and the heartache.