I have had two kinds of recurring nightmares since I was a child, one of them being that a pet of mine dies through my fault.
I would take my cats on a boat ride and they would jump out and drown.
My guinea pigs would run away into the road, my bird accidentally poisoned, the dog I was watching suffocated on his leash.
Last weekend, my pet rat died. I got Pinkie and Brain a few months ago, and had taken Pinkie in to get the snip. He was very territorial and biting Brain. I was afraid that I was delaying the surgery due to overcaution, or to make my own life easier. To not feel guilty or “mean” for taking my pet in for unnecessary surgery. The vet reassured me, so I went for it.
He never got better after the surgery. Three different vets did not know what happened, possibly an allergic reaction to the anesthetic, and after a week of not being able to walk, eat or drink independently, I got my first direct experience with death. It was intense, and there was nothing I can do about it but be there, and I’m so glad I could.
It’s been days and I am still broken. This is literally my worst nightmare.
My three pets (Pinkie and Brain, and hedgehog granny Daenerys) have become everything to me, and I could not help but question my grief and take it apart. It’s been a few days and I’ve started to look for a cagemate for Brain (rats are social animals).
Death is a funny thing, and it’s up to us to give it meaning.
Who am I crying for? Pinkie is gone and no longer in pain, Brain seems to have adjusted alright, and yet. I can’t help thinking how sudden and unexpected it was, although that seems to be the theme with death.
Maybe it can give me the strength to shift from routine as well and accept what is not asking to be accepted.