Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Well, shit.

Thomas's hamster died late last night.
He kept us up all freakin' night long Sunday, running on his wheel, and less than 24 hours later, he's in a box.

I opened her cage to give her a little slice of apple, and she wouldn't hardly move. I picked her up, and she was cold, and breathing very heavy. Her eyelids were unresponsive to light or touch. Her legs were drawn up, and if you pulled one out, she didn't protest or even curl it back up underneath her.

What the hell?

This little girl was the best hamster I've ever had, or Thomas- and that's a lot of hamsters. I know they don't live long, but we do not have very good luck with the little guys.

I put her under my shirt to try to warm her up, but it didn't work. She has this nasty habit of collecting food in her cheek pouches, and just letting it sit there. The vet told us that could lead to infection, so I clean them out about once a week. I noticed some food in her cheeks, so I cleaned it out one last time. This was the only time she responded to anything I had tried, so I was encouraged.

Then a paw shuddered, and she was gone. I even tried mouth-to-mouth on her, but it did no good. We wrapped her up in a little box, cried a little more, and then headed off to bed. I did not sleep well. Thoughts of helping Thomas through this loss, coupled with the "holy crap, I have a ton to do before Christmas!" thoughts and a little cold I'm developing kept waking me up.

How in the hell do you help a child deal with death at Christmas?

Last year, a week after Thanksgiving, Kevin's best friend's dad died. He suffered a diabetic incident in his sleep, and just never woke up. It didn't seem to bother Ethan or his sister, Addison, all that much. My boys were equally affected- a little distant, and sad, but over it very quickly. I don't think they even cried. I know Ethan and Addison did, but my boys did not. (Addison is about the same age as Thomas, and Ethan is Kevin's friend) The next few days are going to be a sad/happy mix; I can't even imagine what it would be like if it was a parent or grandparent who died.

I know- it's just a hamster, but it's going to put a damper on the next few days, a time that should be one of the happiest and most fun all year long. We've had this hamster longer than the rest (which isn't saying much- we got her almost exactly a year ago), and she'll be missed. She was a great hamster- never bit, very tolerant of the kids handling her, and cute as hell.


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