It was the best. After the school year ended and the camp meeting was over, our family moved to Sunset Youth Camp for the summer, where my dad was the associate director and my mom the camp store director. It was endless days of play for my brother, sister, and me.
On this day, I was hanging out with my dad as the staff set up the canvas tent cabins in the girls' camp. In one of the tents was a dresser. One of the staff opened it and found a nest of small pink baby mice. “Hey, look at these baby mice. What shall we do with them?” they asked.
I ran over to look. They were so cute. “Daddy, can I keep one, please?” I begged.
“Sure, son, if you can convince your mom,” he replied. “You will need a shoebox to keep it in. Get a shoebox from mom in the camp store.”
I ran as fast as my little six-year-old legs would go to the store busting through the door, yelling, “Mom! Mom! I need a shoebox. Daddy said I could keep one of the baby mice they found.”
“He said what?” my mother replied with her hands on her hips. She stared at me for a moment, then looked for a shoebox. As she handed it to me, she said, “That mouse will not stay in our cabin. Do you understand?”
“Yes, mom,” I said over my shoulder as I ran out of the store with my shoebox.
Back at the tent cabin, I made a bed of shredded toilet paper and selected a tiny pink mouse. I was so excited. I showed it to everyone, but not everyone shared my excitement. Everywhere I went, so did the mouse in the shoebox. I gave it water and food scraps from the kitchen. I tucked it in a safe place in the nature center every night. To the amazement of all, except me, the baby mouse lived, thrived, and grew. Soon I had a pet mouse hanging out with me.
At last, it was opening day for campers to come to camp. It was a teen camp. I had so much fun walking around camp with my pet mouse. I got a lot of different reactions.
One morning, I went to wake up my little friend for the day but found him dead. I was heartbroken. They had a short burial service for it at morning camp flag raising. They played taps. The campers and staff walked respectfully behind me as we walked to the lodge. My dad said a few words, and I buried my little mouse friend by the steps in its shoebox. It was my first taste of death.
Sixty years have passed since then. I still have fond memories of my little friend. Though I have experienced a whole lot more sadness and loss I have been comforted by the Lord. Ellen White writes, “Let us keep fresh in our memory all the tender mercies that God has shown us, --the tears He was wiped away, the pains He has soothed, the anxieties removed, the fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings bestowed--thus strengthening ourselves for all this is before us through the remainder of our pilgrimage.” Let us not forget that soon, and very soon, God will make all things new. He will wipe away every tear. Who knows, my little friend will be there in heaven. How cool that would be.