After 16 years of “Odd Fellow” companionship and sharing live crickets, Diego, my sidekick, stretched out and took his hibernation into a deep and final siesta to the Bearded Dragon Lizard Elysian Fields. He was a silent companion, an excellent listener, and quite frankly, an extremely handsome dude.
The outpouring of grief on my Facebook page was overwhelming. Who would have thought that this event would elicit ideas such as a ladder ascending up into a hole the cloud as a cover for “Diego’s flight to heaven,” or blunt comments like “I didn’t know him, but you are in my thoughts.” I got more responses than I ever have on any other Facebook post, even the ones announcing my son’s college graduation or the passing of my dog. Maybe it’s what I wrote that struck a chord with my loyal followers,, its tone more tongue in cheek than the weepiness that usually comes with loss. And why did my heart feel the former?
The truth is that even though I was Diego’s full-time caretaker, cage cleaner, and Petco cricket courier, he hated me. Biting was his main response to my existence, and I had to be fast on the draw to get my hand out of his refuge — he would “snap crackle and pop” his cricket catch, but he never got the taste of me. I fed him the choicest leaves of lettuce and cut up string beans, – wonderful dry lizard food – but could manage to get a kind move or even a thankful gaze out of him. My presence around his home only caused him to strike at the glass or leap from his structure, in hopes of catching me once and for all. Yet around everyone else, he was a charming — a true gentleman.
Somehow, I think he knew that reptiles were not my thing, thanks to the trauma of running over one on my tricycle as a little boy. I wouldn’t have even noticed, except for my father’s incessant, goading humor over it). But faux-reflective musings aside, I had to face Diego’s death, which mainly consisted of the issue of what to do with him. It’s winter and the ground is frozen, so in the spirit of a modern burial, I created my own “Cryofreezing” and wrapped him up in a sandwich baggy before putting him in my freezer. He is now passed into history like Ted Williams and Austin Powers… the three greats.