Bad Dad: Mourning the loss of a lizard (and $100)

September 16, 2011|By Matt Murray
  • Phoebe and Ray Murray lay to rest their lizard friend.
Phoebe and Ray Murray lay to rest their lizard friend. (Matt Murray, Daily…)

I received a call from my wife's phone 15 minutes after I got to work Wednesday. I cheerfully answered, only to be greeted by a meek voice.

"Daddy?" my daughter asked hushed tones. It sounded like she had been crying.

"What are you doing on Mommy's phone, Phoebe?" I asked sharply. "Is everything OK?"

"Daddy, something bad happened," she said, holding back a slight sniffle.

Obviously, my wife was in some kind of danger and was incapacitated because she wasn't calling me herself. And my daughter, being the smart one of our two kids, snatched her iPhone and dialed me quickly — just as we taught her to.

My mind started to race. They had been in a nasty car accident, and Phoebe had been thrown clear of the wreckage, along with the phone.

Or they were at the bank, and had been taken hostage by bank robbers. Phoebe was calling me as she hid in one of the cubicles.


Or my greatest fear: The zombie apocalypse is at hand, and legions of the undead are clamoring at our front gate.

"What happened, Pheebs?" I pressed. "Why are you crying?"

There was a pause. The longer it went, the worse the event had to be.

"Daddy," she finally said. "I was doing my homework and I looked over ... Daddy, Raptor died."

To recap, Raptor was the alligator lizard who I wrote about in my last column whom I had "rescued" from the patio while looking for crickets. For a brief moment, I was elevated to king of the world by my kids for saving the lizard I inadvertently trapped. In my excitement, I went out and spent $100 on a reptile terrarium, complete with heat lamps and a hygroscope, although I still don't know what it does.

But it's a moot point now.

At this point, I'm standing in an empty conference room, having walked away from my co-workers, listening to my daughter choke back tears. And while I can sympathize with her loss, I was equal parts of relief and shock. I was still reeling from the gamut of emotions when I was snapped back to reality by my daughter's quiet voice.

"I want to bury him in the yard, Daddy," she said.

That's the same yard he would probably still be scampering around had I not captured and kept him in a plastic prison cell, I thought to myself. The feeling of relief was replaced by a pang of guilt.

"I think that would be for the best," I agreed.

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