Thursday, October 04, 2007

Channeling Kubler-Ross

Our rat Rosey died yesterday. She was an old lady. We knew our rats didn't have a lot of time left. Rats only live a couple of years, and these three have lived longer than the other rats we've had. Rosey had been noticeably failing for a couple of weeks, but was not in any apparent pain or in imminent danger of death until about Sunday. She got a lot weaker and wasn't eating much. When you picked her up, she just cuddled against you instead of trying to climb up onto your shoulder or into your pocket or your hood. She started aspirating blood, too.

We all took long turns holding her and taking her outside, which she always loved. I didn't let her run around on my bed since she was so exhausted and might spray blood on my sheets.

Yesterday, I picked her up and held her a long time. I cried. I thought it was stupid to cry over a 2-year-old rat, but I couldn't help it. I hated seeing her failing, knowing she was dying.

In the afternoon her breathing became very noisy. It made doing homework very difficult--impossible, in fact. I finally went to my bedroom and closed the door so I couldn't hear her. I thought I should just hold her and let her die in my hands, but there was no way of knowing if she'd sound like a nut cracking for five minutes or five more days, and I had a lot to do.

When Eric and Kelsey got home from soccer about half an hour later, she was dead. Her body was still warm, which was pretty creepy.

Kelsey and I went to the deli to get some milk and comfort food, and she cried the whole time. The people who worked there were very understanding. One guy asked her, "Where's Rosey now?" He meant it in a religious or metaphysical way. She said, "She's in a Kleenex box on top of her cage."

We wrapped her body in a pretty pillow case. Eric dug a hole in the dark between the day lilies while we held flashlights so he could see. Kelsey and I bawled. I set her in the hole, and Eric and Kelsey sprinkled the dirt over her. We covered the spot with a chunk of purple quartz that Australia Sam stole from Devil's Lake. (It was too big and heavy to fit in her suitcase, so it stayed here.) And that was that.

My sister's brother-in-law died of a heart attack this week. I think he was about 60. I haven't seen him since I was in single digits. My mom's friend Margery died on Tuesday. She was 98, so it's hardly surprising. I always liked her.


laurie said...

aw, i'm sorry.

poor rosie. poor you.

those warm little creatures depend on us. it's very hard to see them suffer.

i'm awfully sorry.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

wow. what a week. I can;t believe you had an rat that was actually "old in age"! Our hermit crabs died last week. My kids cried and cried.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

All God's creatures deserve our love. So sorry for your loss.

Take care, Crystal xx

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I'm so sorry about Rosie.

When our first rat, Cheddar, died it was horrible. She was our first (non-fish) pet to die.

We had a little wake and told stories. Our favorite was the one where Cheddar drove with my husband in the moving van when we came to Kansas. Every night the two of them would share a pizza in the motel room and then sleep it off.

She was a really good girl.

Amy said...

Thanks, Laurie. I was surprised how broken up I was. I'm glad she didn't suffer long. She just curled up in a ball and slept for a few days, and that was the end of her little life. Now we've got Lilly and Sammy left. (The spellings are not mine.) I'm looking forward to a birthday party for them.

SOTJ, it's been a memorable week. I'll blog more later. Sorry about your hermit crabs and your sad children. Did you keep the shells?

Crystal, thanks. Most people don't think of rats as very lovable. But they really are so nice. They're so curious and smart and quiet and soft, and they lick your fingers clean and nestle in your lap. If they only lived longer.

RC, Cheddar is a good rat name. It sounds like she had a good rat life. Pizza and hotels--that's living. It was sweet of you to have a wake for her. We did that, too.