15

Do you remember Martin, Christopher’s free-ranging pet rat I introduced back in entry 11? I think it’s time to tell the story of his untimely demise.

On Easter morning the fateful (and traumatic) year I attended 3rd grade at Lowell Elementary, Christopher found Martin on the bottom stair of the flight that led up to the second floor of our house. He pointed out the blood on his nose and mouth and pronounced that poor Martin had clearly died from “internal bleeding.”

Later that day our maternal grandparents, Christine and Johnnie Hill, drove up from Lacey, Washington for an Easter visit. There’s a photo somewhere of the group of us proudly posing with the Easter baskets that grandma fashioned for us from milk cartons. And I’m pretty sure those are full-sized bars we’re holding up.

15-Easter

My point? We don’t look too broken up. You know, because Martin had clearly died from natural causes. I held my tongue and carried the guilt of how he actually died for many years. In fact, I think I only copped to being the cause of his death somewhat recently.

Here’s what really happened: Easter morning I woke early because I was beside myself with excitement. I crept out of my bed and headed downstairs in the dark to take a peek—I had to see (First! Before my brothers!) whether the Easter bunny had left treats for us. As I reached the last step, I felt a distinctive and sickening crunch beneath my foot. I knew without looking what had happened so I turned around, tiptoed back upstairs, and climbed back into bed without telling a soul.

Offering: the guilt I’ve carried for the past 40 years and the memory of exactly what it felt like to crush Martin’s tiny skull beneath my heel.

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