Time for Moore: An empty cage

Jane Turpin Moore
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Seasons of loss are simply part of life; we all know that, even those of us who have been blissfully unaffected by it in recent times.

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But loss, in various forms, came knocking at our door once again in 2022. And as the year ground to its frigid close, several friends and acquaintances were not spared either.

Disruptive weather systems over which we had no control contributed to the challenges. After enduring the pandemic shutdowns and social distancing of 2020-21 that kept loved ones at arm’s length for many months, Mother Nature’s determination to force the cancellation or rescheduling of family get-togethers seemed doubly dastardly.

No fewer than six good friends lost a senior parent or step-parent between Christmas Day and New Year’s, and another friend lost his father yesterday. These painful departures of family members make our own disappointments pale by comparison; sending sympathy cards and text messages of support have been near-daily tasks.

Considering that the definition of “family” is flexible, we have bid farewell to two members of our own household in the past year.


Early last spring, one of our two sister cats, Blackberry, left us and her sister Snowflake for that better place to which good pets go when their weary bodies can no longer support their kind and gentle spirits. Blackberry had marked her 17th birthday not long before her passing. The family cat-lovers were sorrowful, and Snowflake has since benefited from even more attention than she had previously enjoyed.

Just before Christmas, another family pet — Darwin, the bearded dragon — was showing signs of slowing down — or was he just in brumation?

When brumating, bearded dragons sleep more, eat less, move less and generally cause their owners to worry. Darwin had been through such phases before and returned to full health, but we were watching him closely.

Meanwhile, the son who made him his own and in whose bedroom Darwin resided for over seven years was away at college, in the throes of finals.

Sadly, before long it became clear Darwin was no longer with us, and we reluctantly turned off the heat lamp and the UVB bulb that had warmed Darwin in his glass tank. His light no longer shone in the darkening hours of dusk, and a neighbor noted its absence and thoughtfully asked about him.

Darwin’s antics over time — his bold escapes, enthusiastic consumption of mealworms, crickets and slugs, skin-shedding and long-held stares — are now a thing of the past.

But his glass cage remains in place, potentially awaiting a future day when an interested party’s schedule and emotions have room for welcoming another reptilian buddy to share his life again.

Meanwhile, Snowflake has been living like a queen, lapping up extra attention from those home for the holidays while sleeping comfortably in her polka-dotted bed by the glowing fireplace.


Real losses — of humans, loved ones, pets — have a way of putting other losses in perspectives. Take the Vikings’ New Year’s Day fall of 41-17 to the Packers, for instance. Really, folks?

Hearing the disgusted voices and seeing angry social media posts of fans who had oh-so-quickly lost faith in their team of choice was disheartening. It’s a game, people, and your team came up short this time around. Had Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin succumbed on Jan. 2 to the cardiac arrest he suffered, that would have qualified as a true loss.

Hamlin’s close call drew attention to our priorities, and to the things that are most important in life even as we experience its accompanying losses.

Rest — and live — in peace.

Opinion by Jane Turpin Moore
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