Heaven for Mickey Mouse
My 3 year old little son, with his sun kissed ash brown hair, dazzling hazel green eyes, and eyelashes that brush his cheeks when he blinks, was overjoyed when we stopped at a small animal fair a few years ago.
Although, the children were growing up in the farming community, this was an up front look at the smaller rodents of the county… other places in the world might find them annoyances.
Colten squealed with delight as he was allowed to stick his tiny, gentle fingers into one cage or another and pet a big, fluffy, orange and white furry rabbit, or try to scratch behind the ears of a black, clean, squeaky, tiny snack mouse.
It was truly a fine heaven for my young son, seeing life in a different way. Of course, it was the brown and white guinea pig with a for sale sign that caught the eye most of our little pest fan. We paid the $5 to take our new ‘pet’ home, along with a few extra supplies to make his home transfer easier.
Not a morning would go by with out Colten opening his sleepy eyes before they sprung open with delight because he knew instinctively that his little pal in the cage, up high on a shelf, in the next room was waiting for his loving and rambunctious owner to feed and play with him.
Many in the family fought over a good name for the new pet guinea pig, but it was little Colten who would ultimately win. To him it was a mouse, after all to a small boy what is the difference between a rabbit, a hamster, or a genie pig? They are all mice to them. Out of the blue one afternoon, Colten started referring to his new pet as Mickey Mouse. The large family chuckled and accepted Mickey Mouse into the home as a family member.
Mickey tamed over the week and we allowed Colten and his older brother to even take Mickey out of the cage for play for an hour a couple of times a day. There were always escape attempts, as all vulnerable pets might attempt if there owner were a three year old boy, however, with the help of our cat… Spooky, somehow Mickey was always found and caught unharmed.
Many times, when the house was quiet, you could hear out little baby boy making his own little makeshift ladder out of books, boxes, and toys that would lead him higher up to the shelf that held his little buddy. Colten would often sneak a nervous Mickey out of his cage for an ‘unscheduled’ play. Thank goodness that Spooky had found it in her heart to be the gate keeper and her ever watchful eye never let Mickey too far out of bounds.
I can still see Colten’s tiny, pale, soft, baby fingers reaching far into the cage, while Mickey ran through his cedar to a ‘safe’ corner to avoid Colten’s ever so gentle grip. Ironically, even though others in the family got an occasional nip or nibble, Mickey never even lightly bit Colten. He must have known that his intentions were good.
Mickey was with us for about 3 months before some unknown illness or injury made him ill. Colten, who spoke very little, knew that something was wrong with his little pal though, and we all watched as finally Mickey passed on.
Colten cried solemnly, as I would comfort him. Is there a pet heaven? I didn’t want to lie. I consulted a few elders from the church and it ironically seemed a controversial issue. Some believed that Heaven is merely for those of us humans who believed in God; however there were a few who believed that the pets we truly love do go to pet heaven. It is the only comfort one can offer a small child.
I explained very sympathetically to Colten that there was a place that God took people who believed in him to when they died, and indeed I believed that Mickey was loved and that baby Jesus had taken Mickey there as well to wait for Colten to join him some day a long long time away.
I described the beauty of heaven and showed little Colten miraculous (perhaps fictitious) pictures of what we think Heaven looks like. I also explained that in the Heaven Mickey Mouse was in, there were no cats to chase and eat him, there were no dogs to bark at him, and no snakes to slither after him.
But the best thing was that all his family that passed on before him were there, along with Jesus to play with him all day.
I comforted Colten by telling him that probably Mickey’s Papa and Grama were also up in Heaven so happy to see him, hug him, and love him. And although I may have been reaching, I also explained that maybe Jesus himself had bigger plans for Mickey Mouse in Heaven than he had for him on earth. Perhaps a special mission of sorts was awaiting Mickey in Heaven. That God needed Mickey more than we did so God took him up to the best place in existence.
Mickey would never grow old, never be tired never be cold or hungry, with Jesus and his Papa and Grama.
“Mickey Mouse in Heaven?” a small smile formed on my son’s tanned little cheeks. Although his speech was very difficult to understand, it was very clear his question. I smothered Colten in hugs and kisses and knew everything would be okay. We buried Mickey in the flower garden and explained that the garden was the most beautiful place to bury such a nature loving animal. He would no longer be in a cage, but free. Today there is still a little cross with Mickey's name positioned between Lilly's at Papa and Grama's house.
Every morning for a week after that, Colten would awaken and ask again,
“Mickey Mouse in Heaven with Jesus?” and then smile distantly.
Colten is 5 now and still refers to Heaven and Mickey Mouse. When he watches movies (like Brother Bear) where someone dies, he explains as best he can that they are in heaven with Mickey Mouse and Jesus now.
A year ago when someone our family knew died and we spoke of it, Colten would say that person was in Heaven where Jesus and Mickey Mouse was now. In my explanation of death, I didn’t realize at the time, that the explanation of death and heaven was actually a lasting impression of understanding death as a whole, even relating to people.
This memory will carry Colten into adulthood, as so many other childhood memories, the good and the bad, that will help form his compassion and his character as he grows. For with life, also comes death, and for those who believe (and their favorite pets) there is no end, but a Heaven and a new life is to be continued…