Sofia, our avicularia avicularia (Common Pink Toe tarantula) died last week. Yes, Gentle Reader, she skittered over the rainbow bridge and off to the great Pinned, Styrofoam Sheet in the sky.
About two months ago, I looked in her cage and my heart sank when I realized that she had molted, but had not shed her abdomen - normally, tarantulas shed their entire exoskeleton, fangs, mouth parts, sexual organs, stomach lining and book lungs. The fact that she had not shed her abdomen was a bad, bad sign. But still, I had hope - after all, Madison, our avicularia versicolor (Anitlles Pink Toe) spiderling has skipped shedding her abdomen, although I suspect the fact that Madison was just a tiny "sling" helped her survival. Anyway! I had kept a close eye on Sofia since her molting, filling her bowl with water, offering her crickets. I knew it was bad when she refused crickets. I knew it was really bad when she went into a death curl. When spiders die, they do not flip on to their backs (actually, they tend to do that when they are molting.) Rather, spiders will hunker down low with their legs curled under their bodies. And there Sofia was. Hunkered down, legs curled.
And. That was it.
Arun and Anjali were fairly dismayed. In particular, Anju was very concerned that "Madison will miss her mama". And as you would expect, they have been asking the usual questions about death - Arun went as far as to purport that "humans don't die, Mama." And this, this, is where I give religion credit where it is due -- as the title of this post suggests, Jesus is the Advertisement King when it comes to mortality. Surely, nobody can sell Death like the Christians.
There are no slow-motion videos of Sofia and us frolicking in our yard with Kenny Rogers warbling "Through The Years" in the background. There are no snaps of Sofia snuggled in bed with the kids. There are no memories of laughter, wrestling or playing fetch. But she was still a pet, of sorts, to us and we miss her.
I have always said that Sofia was like Cheech to the A. Avic set. She was so very laid back - ALL of the other A Avics I have seen are very jumpy, nervous sorts. Sofia? Not so much. When I would fill her water dish (an old milk jug cap), she would meander over to get a drink, but otherwise, she just hung out (huffing glue or smoking a bong, I swear).
She would even allow us to pet her rump with little hesitation.
I think what surprised me the most is how often I looked to her cage to check in on her. I was even caught off-guard at how teary-eyed I got when I pulled her from the cage and put her in the Ziploc bag. And I certainly did not expect to be torn about giving her to a friend for her daughter's 3rd grade science project.
But it was the right decision - to put her out there, to show others how fascinating up close an animal that nobody loves can be. Because of Sofia, I got over my squeamish stomach and tingling spine. I became more open, more accepting of creepy crawlies, lizards, snakes - all of the animals that my son desperately adores.
And now, I am just as captivated.