An incidence of strong sadness or tearfulness inspired by a silly or seemingly humorous artifact. A ferret jacket moment is brought about by the context or juxtaposition of the funny item in question with respect to other circumstances.
Davey was our first pet ferret. We had wanted to get one for a long time, but we had to do the research, ferret-proof the house and otherwise get everything in order, like good, pet-loving nerds will do.
September 1996—our local Petco store got a big shipment of silvery-white ferret kits. They danced and squirmed as we played with them at the store, and they made that hilarious little chuckle that ferret lovers call "dooking." One little guy in particular, the friendliest and most gregarious of the whole bunch, caught our attention. He wrestled with our hands and chewed on Suzi's rings. He shoved his brothers and sisters
aside as if to say, "Me! Me! You know you want me!"
That was our boy.
Susan, who has a very mild form of slight autism, can sometimes pull really perfect names out of thin air (we suspect that these two things are related). She looked at the little rascal for a very long time ... "Davidson. Davidson Fitzweasel," she said. The name was perfect for some strange reason.
Everything that we had heard from people, books and web pages came true: Davey escaped from everything, he got into seemingly impossible places. Anything and everything was a potential plaything. He stole stuff—he stole a lot of stuff. Wee Davey stole lighters, snacks, socks, just about anything he could carry. The funniest were the bagel thefts, when Suzi's brother, Carl, would bring us fresh bagels from his job. It is one of the great sights of the animal kingdom to see a tiny animal dragging a bagel that appears to be as big as he is, hoping to hide it for later. We always caught him, or so we thought.
Davidson charmed most everyone he met. Whether he was trying to steal Carl's Twizzler candy (we have a great picture of the ferret, determinedly hanging from a Twizzler), biting feet, playing with our cats (we had four felines at the time, two of which seemed to like the little guy, two of which tolerated him), or resolutely chasing ping-pong balls around our hardwood floor like a turbo-charged soccer player, he was a charismatic little mustalid.
His mischievous nature earned him the reputation of being a loveable troublemaker. We even bought him a tiny black leather jacket–obviously, he could not wear it, but it looked cute hanging next to his mirror in the two-story cage. We thought of him as a tiny, silvery-furred juvenile delinquent with eyes the colour of sapphires.
Davidson died at the age of four years, fairly young for a pet ferret. A combination punch of cardiomyopathy
and kidney tumour came on fast, hitting the
little guy as if some cruel, antique god had blasted
our little pet with a lightning bolt. The surgery was
a success, but his little system could not handle the
stresses and he never recovered consciousness.
The loss of a beloved pet is an incredibly hard thing. This one hit us especially hard. Largely, it was the speed—there was scarcely a month between our first inkling that Davey was sick and the time when he was gone. There was no time to steel ourselves, no time to plan for potential outcomes, just hang on and watch the ship sink. Suzi doesn't cry much—the child of unemotional, German Lutherans and the product of the Lutheran school system, she can be eerily stoic.
She cried this time. In our near quarter-century together I've never seen her heart so thoroughly broken. I suppose I must have cried some too, it is hard for me to remember.
We could not immediately deal with the depressing chore of cleaning out Davey's home, so we let it sit for over a week. We just emptied his litter trays and food bowls and left it. The rays of perhaps a dozen sunrises slid through the windows in Susan's room and lit up the tiny hammock where our little scamp had slept while the hearts of his adoptive human "parents" mended.
One evening we finally set to the task. We opened his cage and found his toys, shredded cloth and paper and countless petrified bagels (how did he do that??)—all his humble treasures ... and there was his little leather jacket, on the tiny coat hanger that Susan made for it. Then came the tears.
After our shared catharsis, Susan smelled like grief. I don't know that I've ever encountered that before. Grief is an odd fragrance, sort of like sweat and tears and a dash of some strange musty musk.
Suzi made a little crypt for the ashes of our first ferret. A clear acrylic box holds his miniscule urn, a thoroughly fossilized bagel, a couple of toys and that little biker jacket. Carl added a Twizzler to the box later.
...and that is a ferret jacket moment.