Last night I was holed up in bed, trying desperately to keep my brain focused on writing while my body was using every spare ounce of energy to fight a head cold, when I heard Joe call from their bedroom. It was time for me to say their prayers, a ritual that I’ve carried out nearly every night since they were toddlers. I was exhausted and felt miserable, but I hauled myself down the hall to fulfill my nightly duty.
As I was approaching the room, I heard Joe make a comment about one of Luke’s frogs. My boys have each had two aquatic, African dwarf frogs for about 23 months. I love these frogs as much as any mother can love a frog. I especially love Luke’s frogs because, swear to God, they know me and perk up and look at me when I talk to them. That might sound crazy, but it’s true. Luke’s frogs, Splashy and Swimmy, are full of personality and joie de vivre like the boy that owns them.
“That one has been on the top of the water for a while,” Joe noted. “I’ve been watching him. I think he’s gonna die.”
Characteristically, the frogs prefer to hang out on the bottom of the tank and swim up simply to get a breath or feed. It is unusual to see one floating on top, so I could understand Joe’s concern.
“Oh, Joe. He’s not going to die. Don’t be so melodramatic. Sometimes they just like to hang out on top of the water,” I said, trying to alleviate the fears that were evident on Luke’s face after Joe’s dire pronouncement.
When I looked into at Splashy, though, I could tell there really was something wrong with him. From the top of the aquarium, I could see that his rump was red. I couldn’t tell if it was blood, but I sensed it was not good. I’m no herpetologist, but it looked like he might have an inflammation of his cloaca (yes…I had to look that word up). In other words, he might have had a little something stuck up his froggy butt. I figured that was not something I could help him with and since he wasn’t eating, I got a bit worried right along with Joe.
So, when I was done with the boys’ prayers, we paused to say an extra little prayer for Splashy. We asked God to watch over him, help him heal, and to keep him from suffering too long if this was indeed his time to go. I’ll be honest. I say the boys’ prayers each night because it makes them feel better. For me, it’s more of a habit than something I wholeheartedly believe in. I’m undecided on the power of prayer because I’m not sure that there’s a thing I could say to change events in the universe. I’ve never believed I was that powerful. But, I said that prayer for Splashy because he’s the sweetest little frog ever, and I truly hate to see creatures suffer.
By this morning when I went to check on him (at 5 a.m. because I was worried about Luke waking up to a dead, bloated frog), he was back on the bottom of the aquarium. When I went into the boys’ room at 7, he swimming around and his hind end looked considerably less red. It gave me hope. Maybe God is looking out for him. Maybe our prayers for that little frog helped a bit. I don’t know, but I kind of understand why people pray. It’s not necessarily because prayer will fix everything but because it offers hope that perhaps there’s a chance. In the face of the unknowable, hope is all we have.