White Dog and Steve looked in on those of us still sleeping before they headed to the Park at dawn. Milo was starting to awaken in the faux cave we had made of a storage tote and towels placed close to her friend, Quinn's blanket. Quinn, with his back against the "lizard den," was gently snoring. After the Park, White Dog (who had found something good to roll in) needed a bath before Milo could have her daily swim. After shaking water all over the bathroom, White Dog conceded the tub and Steve prepared the water for Milo.
Only it was not needed. Sometime between going to the Park and then, Milo had crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He found her body in the cave but it no longer housed her indomitable spirit. Quinn still rested at her side, awake, but somehow unwilling to leave his friend.
Milo was an amazing lesson in tenacity. She refused her entire life to accept the disability of being three-legged. Often clumsy and awkward, the stubborn green Miss still leaped and climbed and propelled herself all over the house and into all kinds of mischief. In her younger years she often could be found by the books on the floor, knocked off of the shelves as she scaled our library walls in the Office. Milo's stump never stopped moving as though there was still a leg attached as she stretched (hanging from her back legs) and reached for things beyond her grasp. Often Milo miscalculated or attempted more than she could manage and she would crash to the floor or scramble and gain a toehold at just the last second but it never seemed to stop her from going after what she wanted with all her abilities and focus. In the bath, buoyed by the water, she was serpentine and gracefully as she swam in graceful "S" arcs. She was tough, a little thug sometimes in demanding her way. She became free-roaming after rubbing her nose raw in increasingly larger cages...once she was able to claim her own turf, once her demand was met, she stopped the obsessive behavior.
Years ago, when I took on the task of homeschooling a young boy falling through the cracks of the traditional education system, Milo was the agent of our initial bonding. Wyatt was fascinated by her and when I offered him her shed belly skin as a treasure, he became the best learner at "Sue School." Many of our lessons were driven by our iguana, including the incredible opportunity to witness her nesting and egg laying ritual. We turned our guest casita into a riverbed and watched the daily progress for weeks as she dug a den, readied the nest, carved the muddy earth with her claws, gave birth, and protected her clutch...and after, we dissected and studied the eggs under a microscope. These were lessons that made a lasting impact on a kid most everyone had given up on...and Milo was instrumental on exciting him about learning and discovering the world.
Milo was Steve and my last travelling companion who moved here from Chicago 14 years ago. None of our other family members (save Michael, now) understand talk of mosquitoes or humidity or it being so cold we needed to wrap a heating blanket around Milo's enclosure.
We are glad in the end that she found love and friendship with Quinn. As I type this, he lays on his blanket staring at her perch; he has already checked the tub several times looking for her. Michael is unsure of all this; yet another loss in his life. We all held each other and shed some tears as much for ourselves as for Milo. On the other side of the Rainbow Bridge Milo is now climbing (using all her limbs) into a large leafy tree that overhangs a cool swimming stream. The tree is loaded with overripe peaches, one of her favorite foods. At the base of the tree is already spread a colorful Navajo blanket for the future time when Quinn, her friend, and the rest of us join her.
Be happy and run free green girl, you are loved and will not be forgotten.