Emma was magnificent. I told her I had something difficult to tell her, and that I wanted her to trust me about it.
She teared up, got a little perturbed with Despereaux ("He always tries to get out--bet he wishes he hadn't now. . ."), and we prayed together. "Jesus, we know you care about everything. So we ask that if it would be great with you, would you heal Despereaux? And if it would be better for him to go on, would you make it easy for him?"
She was great and settled with that.
She then looked at him (I had prepared her) and talked with him--"Ohhhh, Despereaux, I'm sorry you got out. . ." She also talked with Chester ("Don't lie on him, Chester! He's not well. Get off Despereaux!"), and did the best she could to get it all secure. I took her to school.
Chuckling to myself, I called the Vet. She said I could bring him in and that they would comfort him and/or put him out of his misery, but I opted out. It's not that he's just a gerbil; after all, he's Emma's gerbil. It's that I thought he had as good a chance here as he did there.
And Despereaux just now died.
So, we'll have more time together after Emma gets home from school. This isn't easy, but it's a kind of good. Emma and I were together in Despereaux's rescue, and we'll be together in this, too. I won't tell her what to feel or what to say, but we'll talk. I'm sure we'll navigate fault and blame, and, hopefully, remain in the knowledge that God is correct about this life--it often doesn't work. So we've got to know Him and help each other through the hurt.
We'll do that.