Cockroaches rarely get much sympathy from humans, but hearts have been known to grow a few sizes this time of year. And while the Christmas spirit wasn't enough to save one unlucky roach in Texas, it may still explain why humans' indifference over the insect's death abruptly turned into an over-the-top celebration of life.
The roach, posthumously named "Rosie," recently died in a stairwell at Texas A&M University, according to Michael Alvard, a professor at the school who originally posted the now-viral photos on Facebook. After Rosie lay there for at least two weeks, "some enterprising person" made her a little shrine, Alvard explains. As you can see in these photos, the tribute snowballed from there.
The shrine was relatively humble at first — someone laid Rosie on a blue piece of paper with pink stars, and set up a pink paper tombstone next to her (complete with a paper flower). That was soon followed by actual flowers, along with less traditional grave decorations like an adhesive bandage and a binder clip.
The idea's popularity continued to grow as more people passed by, soon inspiring the addition of a sign that pictured a cockroach under the words "Never forget." New items were also added to the pile of gifts, including pennies, rocks, bottle caps, a lollipop and a cigarette, among other things.
"There is a candle now and a little coffin for the carcass," Alvard wrote on Dec. 4. "And for the record, I had nothing to do with the genesis of this memorial."
Nonetheless, the tribute to Rosie's life apparently struck a chord in visitors to the school's anthropology building, where the stairwell is located. The coffin was soon surrounded by little plastic trees, and then elevated onto a tiny funeral pyre with sticks and matches underneath for kindling. "You were always there to say hello to me in the morning, Rosie! We will miss you," read one sticky note on the wall.
The shrine expanded more and more as December wore on, and a final "celebration of her life" was even postponed to let Rosie bask in her fame a little longer. Finally, surrounded by prayer candles and dozens of other gifts, Rosie was cremated on Dec. 17. And as she departs her earthly stairwell for a new ascent to roach heaven, she leaves behind a gift for us, too: a reminder of how non-Grinchy humans can be.