Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Well, shit.

Thomas's hamster died late last night.
He kept us up all freakin' night long Sunday, running on his wheel, and less than 24 hours later, he's in a box.

I opened her cage to give her a little slice of apple, and she wouldn't hardly move. I picked her up, and she was cold, and breathing very heavy. Her eyelids were unresponsive to light or touch. Her legs were drawn up, and if you pulled one out, she didn't protest or even curl it back up underneath her.

What the hell?

This little girl was the best hamster I've ever had, or Thomas- and that's a lot of hamsters. I know they don't live long, but we do not have very good luck with the little guys.

I put her under my shirt to try to warm her up, but it didn't work. She has this nasty habit of collecting food in her cheek pouches, and just letting it sit there. The vet told us that could lead to infection, so I clean them out about once a week. I noticed some food in her cheeks, so I cleaned it out one last time. This was the only time she responded to anything I had tried, so I was encouraged.

Then a paw shuddered, and she was gone. I even tried mouth-to-mouth on her, but it did no good. We wrapped her up in a little box, cried a little more, and then headed off to bed. I did not sleep well. Thoughts of helping Thomas through this loss, coupled with the "holy crap, I have a ton to do before Christmas!" thoughts and a little cold I'm developing kept waking me up.

How in the hell do you help a child deal with death at Christmas?

Last year, a week after Thanksgiving, Kevin's best friend's dad died. He suffered a diabetic incident in his sleep, and just never woke up. It didn't seem to bother Ethan or his sister, Addison, all that much. My boys were equally affected- a little distant, and sad, but over it very quickly. I don't think they even cried. I know Ethan and Addison did, but my boys did not. (Addison is about the same age as Thomas, and Ethan is Kevin's friend) The next few days are going to be a sad/happy mix; I can't even imagine what it would be like if it was a parent or grandparent who died.

I know- it's just a hamster, but it's going to put a damper on the next few days, a time that should be one of the happiest and most fun all year long. We've had this hamster longer than the rest (which isn't saying much- we got her almost exactly a year ago), and she'll be missed. She was a great hamster- never bit, very tolerant of the kids handling her, and cute as hell.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas in Baghdad

No, it's not what you think.
When I first clicked on this CNN story, I thought "man, our soldiers are celebrating early this year.."
But that's not what the story is about. It's about ordinary Iraqi's, of all religions, celebrating Christmas IN PUBLIC, in Baghdad.

Jill Dougherty reports:

Even before I can ask Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf a question, he greets me with a big smile. "All Iraqis are Christian today!" he says.
Khalaf says sectarian and ethnic violence killed thousands of Iraqis. "Now that we have crossed that hurdle and destroyed the incubators of terrorism," he says, "and the security situation is good, we have to go back and strengthen community ties."

"All Iraqis are Christian today!"

WOW. Never thought I'd hear that statement coming from an Iraqi government official. I've got to tell you though, that is one smart man: to recognize that the government has crossed many hurdles but still has a lot of work to do to strengthen and unite the individual communities shows me that the Iraqi government has a lot of good heads and forward thinkers.

Here's the part of the article that really got to me though:

In the middle of the park there's an art exhibit, the creation of 11- and 12-year-olds: six displays, each about three feet wide, constructed of cardboard and Styrofoam, filled with tiny dolls dressed like ordinary people, along with model soldiers and police. They look like model movie sets depicting everyday life in Baghdad.

Afnan, 12 years old, shows me her model called "Arresting the Terrorists."

"These are the terrorists," she tells me. "They were trying to blow up the school." In the middle of the street a dead "terrorist" sprawls on the asphalt, his bloody arm torn from his body by an explosion. Afnan tells me she used red nail polish to paint the blood. A little plastic dog stands nearby. "What is he doing?" I ask. "He looks for terrorists and searches for weapons and explosives," Afnan says.

How sad is it to think that, at the age of 12, this young girl chose a bloody terrorist scene as "everyday life in Baghdad".
How nice it is though to hear her talk about arresting and killing terrorists instead of BEING one of the terrorists, or killing AMERICANS. She knows the difference between liberators and criminals, and it's that relationship that our military has fostered all throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.

This winter, I fully expect then-President Obama to declare victory in Iraq. He'll be behind the times, but right. What he won't be right about is declaring this OUR victory, or HIS victory; it is not.

This is George Bush's victory, and ultimately, Iraq's victory.
Without men like George Bush and Major-General Khalaf and children like Afnan, there would be no victory in Iraq. We may have been the liberators, but the continuation of their newly-won freedom is up to ordinary Iraqis. This is THEIR victory, which WE facilitated. It's a damn shame that Bush won't be the one to publicly declare that victory. I for one will not let history remember Obama as the President who won this war; this is GWB's win on behalf of people like Khalaf and Afnan.