Way back, about a month ago, a corn snake came to live with us. The details of how this came to be are a little murky. I clearly remember saying no, that I didn't want a snake in the house. Mark remembers the conversation a bit differently and says that he never would have let Jack buy one on that day, had he thought that I had said no. It's true, he's not that kind of guy...so, maybe I am the one who doesn't recall the chat we had over the phone while he was with Jack and Joel at the pet store, there originally, to buy a lizard.
Anyway, King (as he was soon named) had a new home in a plastic aquarium, that had once housed two hermit crabs, perched on the top of Jack and Joel's dresser. That was on a Monday.
On the following Thursday, Jack brought out his snake to show friends who were over. When everyone was finished admiring (or keeping their distance), he put it away.
On Friday afternoon while I was out teaching an ESL lesson, I received a phone call from Mark. "You are not going to be happy," he told me. "The snake is missing." I immediately told him that I would not be coming home until it was found, which I quickly realized was a terribly impractical answer.
We went out that night together as a family to a movie (which had already been planned) and came home to the sad and scary reality that a snake was on the loose. I slept in the basement that night thinking it not possible for him to make his way down there from the second floor bedroom. We spent the next day looking high, low, and everywhere in between. Jack and I completely emptied the bedroom and searched every inch. We had a pretty bad day between all the mixed emotions (anger, disappointment, fear, sadness, blame, etc....) and all the hard work. On top of all that, Mark had the idea to put a line of flour across each doorway of the rooms upstairs--that way we could see if the snake had passed that way by the trail of flour. We saw plenty of trails, but we concluded that they were all made by us not stepping up high enough over the flour and trailing our pant legs or whatever else into the flour. So with flour everywhere upstairs and it always leading us to phantom hopes, we quickly swept it all up. (I think we tried this 3x though, before we gave up completely.) We put out heat sources (electric heater, heating pad, and the lamp that had just been purchased for the snake) and also food (eeek, I cannot speak of this) to lure it out of hiding.
Almost four weeks went by. Four hard weeks. The only thing that made the whole ordeal easier to bear was that our friends seemed to genuinely care about our trauma/drama. I heard often from people checking in to see the status. It made for some interesting conversations in ESL classes and occasions for my students to learn some new words...and to shudder with me.
And then Sunday, in the wee hours of the night, I was awakened, which is normally really hard to do, by Mr. Night Owl, . "Jill," he whispered, "guess what! I found the snake!" I managed to sit up, be glad, and to even ask a few questions. Mark had seen something moving in the dark, down in the family room (yes, in the basement) while he was watching TV. When he flipped the light switch, the sneaky thing darted under a chair. Mark moved the chair, grabbed him quickly (was bitten slightly in the process) and deposited him in his cage. He woke Jack up, too. He couldn't have been more pleased. Joel heard the fuss and he also woke up enough to find out the good news.
In the morning Jack told Sam as soon as he got up (and this is one of my favorite parts of the whole thing). Sam's reaction was so beautiful, to be so happy for Jack that he gave him a hug!
Tonight we had a little supper celebration to revel in God's goodness in answering our prayers for a lost snake. We laughed, we remembered, we compared the rejoicing to the woman in the parable who lost her coins, searched until she found them, and then called her friends together to join in the celebration! I hid 9 gummy worms in Ziplock bags all around the living/dining room area and told the guys to find them. They had a miserable time even finding the first one. From my spot at the table, I laughed and said, "This, boys, is why we were not able to locate the snake for a month!" Let's just say that they are not an observant lot!
So, there's a happy ending. It was a bad time, but we learned a lot about ourselves, we bonded, we made our friends laugh, and we have one VERY happy boy! Selah.