I’m concerned my precious pet turtles might die

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a high school girl with two pet turtles. Lately, I’ve been really worried: What if my precious turtles were to die?

My turtles belong to different species. Both are a type that doesn’t grow large even when they’re adults. The first one is in its fifth year at my house, and the second one in its fourth year.

When I call their names, they come to me with their legs kicking. I think, “They’re so cute, so adorable!” and I almost forget to breathe.

Recently they got sick, so I took them to a veterinarian for treatment. However, I can’t take them very often because I’m busy going to school, leaving home early in the morning and returning late at night. I’m really worried about them.

I’m so happy to have something I can treasure so much, but I’m horrified at the idea of trying to cope with their death. They’re so cute and I love them so much. I’m so worried that I can’t concentrate on my studies.

N, Tokyo

Dear Ms. N:

From your letter, I can see how much you love your dear turtles. However, you’re concerned about when they’ll die even though they’re still alive — it’s too early, isn’t it? If your turtles knew your concern, they might be confused. Imagine this: They come eagerly when you call their names, but you’re obsessed with the question, “When will you die?”

It’s often said, “A crane lives 1,000 years and a turtle lives 10,000.” As this saying indicates, turtles can live a very long time. So your turtles might even outlive you.

You might live more peacefully by thinking, “My cute turtles can’t be defeated by an ordinary disease or two.”

Of course, they may have already lived for 9,999 years and will die within a year. But that means they’ve lived their natural lives and lived happily. For now, you should enjoy being with them. I’m certain they enjoy being with you that way, too.

That’s all the advice I have for you, but I want to add one thing: I’m very moved by your caring attitude toward animals. Keep this kindness alive and become an adult who is aware of the importance of life.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from Sept. 15, 2015, issue)Speech

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