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For most of my life, I have not had any pets. My brother and I are allergic to anything with fur. Then one spring, we found our first praying mantis, which changed our lives forever.

For several more summers, we enjoyed playing with these unique creatures. One particular summer, a new batch of baby praying mantises was expected. Soon we found they had hatched. One praying mantis caught my eye. She was a female and was very large for a praying mantis. We liked her right away and named her Forget Me Not. I named her this because we will never forget her and this name was also the name of a flower. Although we loved all our praying mantises, Forget Me Not was our favorite. She grew so used to us that she would climb all over us. She was the tamest of all our praying mantises, and she and I formed a special bond.

Forget Me Not girl holding praying mantis
Melissa holding Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not would climb willingly onto me. She was as light as a feather. Her prickly claws would stick to me when she walked on me. When she was on me, I could forget all my worries and troubles because I was in a world of my own. She was as green as a meadow, and as brown as a tree trunk. She would stare comfortingly in my eyes. It was like she was trying to tell me everything was going to be OK.

Soon it grew to be mating time, and Forget Me Not mated. At the same time, it grew cold out. A few days later, we took Forget Me Not in the house, because we were hoping she would live longer. Amazingly, Forget Me Not laid her first egg case on September 11, which gave my family hope after this tragic day. We played with and cuddled Forget Me Not. Through our gentle hands inside the warm house, she laid three silky egg cases. Then she grew to be very weak. She could barely walk or lift her prickly claws. We saw pain in her sweet eyes. We played with her and loved her. With tears in our eyes, we realized there was nothing we could do for our beloved pet, except to love her. Soon she died in our caring arms.

Even though we could not prolong our dear pet's life, and we could not change Mother Nature, we will always remember Forget Me Not. Next year, we will have her children to raise. We knew from the first moment we saw Forget Me Not that she was special. She was so gentle, patient and loving. Forget Me Not will never be forgotten. She will always have a special place in our hearts.

Forget Me Not Melissa Merte
Melissa Merte, 10
Wappingers Falls, New York