Sunday night, after all the spinning, working and potlucking* of the weekend, I walked into my kitchen. Something was not right. There was a very unpleasant odor. I quickly realized that it was coming from one of the hermit crabs. He had not moved in a long time. He had passed on. Just to be extra sure he was dead before I tossed him in the trash I put him and his tankmate into a container with water. Tankmate immediately perked up and started moving around. Deadcrab was still dead. I picked up Tankmate to place him back in his tank and he threw himself forward, nearly completely out of his shell, back toward the water. I put him back in the water. I tried to lift him again and again he reached for the water. It was as if he didn't want to leave Deadcrab. I managed to put Tankmate back in the tank and placed Deadcrab in a ceremonial grocery store produce bag usually saved to pick up dog poop. I started to spruce up the tank a little with some fresh food, water and some apple peels when I saw that Tankmate had gone over to the spot where Deadcrab died. He sat in that spot for most of the night before moving on to eat the apple peels. Was I imagining it? Do hermit crabs have any sense of community? Loss? In the morning I informed my son that one of the crabs was gone. He asked to view the remains. He wondered aloud if he could make a tombstone for Deadcrab but dismissed it because he realized he wasn't strong enough to carve stone. So Deadcrab was placed in a grocery bag and thrown in the garbage. Ah, the great circle of life.
* My spellcheck just tried to replace "potlucking" with "botulism."