It really is a strange thing, if you give it some thought, that we take animals into our homes and treat them like family. I don’t know if any other species in the world exhibits the same behaviour. My childhood was littered with the comings and goings of many creatures furred, feathered or scaled. For several glorious years we shared a house with a beautiful budgie named Blue. At the time I did not know that Blue was the name of many different budgies. My mother had taken it upon herself to replace the predecessor with a bird of the same colour when age or misfortune in the shape of a cat or front door left open had occurred.
When my son was small he laid claim to an albino longhaired hamster he titled Sir Putsy Tootsy. Putsy Tootsy was subjected to Lego mazes, Matchbox hot rod tubes and pocket journeys here and there. My son still has the pictures from the trip to the photo booth at the mall and he keeps a clipping of white hair in his desk drawer. When Putsy Tootsy passed away he received a state funeral with all the trappings. He was laid to rest in a decoupaged shoebox that had been lined with a soft blue cloth. We sang Amazing Grace and placed a cross on the spot where he was buried. Today, a grouchy hedgehog that goes by the name of Joe MacHedgie inhabits my son’s room. As cute as he is Joe will never take the place of Sir Putsy Tootsy in my son’s heart.
She was my husband’s "divorce buddy". A sympathetic ear, it was her that he talked to in those difficult days of separation and anxiety. His confidante, she learned to voice her needs from his confessions…or maybe there’s some Siamese there. Such a small thing, if she were to leave, his loss would be monumental. We didn’t start out on the best of terms. He was her man and I was an interloper. She was herself and I was myself but we found an uneasy balance through the years.
It’s not me she wants but life being what is, I’m what she’s got. Something is broken inside her. Blood stains her lips. She doesn’t smell right. For the first time, in all the 11 years I’ve known her, she is quiet and that is the worst thing of all. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain but I don’t think the medicine is helping.
So we wait, her and I, together so she doesn’t have to be alone.
Somber sleep embraces her in arms of velvet dark. She seems so delicate and frail; maybe he won’t let her go. I touch her side to feel the faint spark of life rise and fall. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?