October 31, 2007

Sitting with Tycho

I'm at home with Tycho right now. He looks bad. He's going sort of slack; he's not closing his mouth all the way. He keeps closing his eyes tightly. His breathing is labored. He doesn't want food or water. All he wants right now is to sit under his heat lamp.

I don't think he's going to be here tomorrow. I think this is going to be our last night with Tycho after eleven years.

I really don't know how much reptiles can remember. I know they have very simple brains and almost all of their behavior is hard-wired into them. Still, a part of me wants to think that Tycho might remember something of his life. I want to believe right now that he remembers riding across North America on the dashboard of our car, that maybe he's thinking about one of the many days he spent sitting on a deck in his outdoor cage, basking in the sun and watching leaves fall and birds fly by. I suppose I want to believe right now that somewhere in that tiny brain of his, Tycho knows that we cared about him. That he's had about as good a life as a lizard could hope for. That he remembers being... happy.

It's a funny thing to have spent eleven years sharing one's time with a creature who is so different than oneself that one can never really know a single thing it has thought. I have no idea even if Tycho has ever experienced happiness in a way that I would recognize as happiness.

I can only hope that he did. I hope that — somehow — he knows that we've cared about him.

What goes through a dying lizard's mind?

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