Last spring, we saw the passing of Waldo, the veiled chameleon. We only had Waldo for less than a year in the library, but he spent his last months loved by many adoring fans.
Waldo was the source of inspiration for many pieces of artwork and lessons about reptiles/chameleons. His peacefulness calmed many an anxious heart, and he taught the community to love and protect his species and other reptiles too!
The Grade 5 class learned about letter writing in the winter because they sent him letters during his "vacation". He was actually at my house because the school was too cold at night. I joked with the students that Waldo was visiting his family in a far away place. The Kindergarten and Grade 1 students believed me, so I had Waldo send postcards with clues to where he was vacationing. It turns out he was in Egypt.
Death is hard, but it's a part of life. There were tears, a lot of tears, when Waldo passed. His cage was adorned with drawings and cards. It was hard to see the black cloth draped over his cage every time I entered and exited the library doors.
A pair of brothers brought in a beautiful wooden box to bury Waldo in and they helped me dig a grave near the bog just outside of the school fence. The ground was hard from lack of rain, but the boys tirelessly dug the hole deep enough to protect Waldo from hungry predators.
I had hoped for a quiet burial, but the recess bell rang and the school rushed to the fence to watch us. The youngest brother tenderly walked Waldo's body along the fence as children whispered good-byes and tears were shed. A dear colleague gave the boys seeds to plant to mark Waldo's grave in the summer time. Beautiful red and purple flowers bloomed in July.
Death lost a little bit of its sting that day as a school came together in compassion and love.
Waldo the Veiled Chameleon