Friday, July 30, 2004

My First Pet Death

I must've been about 10 years old when I adopted Buddy from the pet store. Buddy was a MESOCRICETUS AURATUS, otherwise known as a golden hamster. I adored that little rodent. I would take him out of his plastic cage - complete with running wheel and plastic tubing that led to a balcony of sorts. While doing homework, I would set him on top of my head. And when he slowly made his way down into my lap, I would pick him up and place him back on top of my head again. This was before I learned about the myth of Sisyphus. As an adult, I worry that the poor little hamster felt tortured by this game. At the time, however, I quite enjoyed it. His little claws would slowly tickle my scalp then my shoulders then down to my knees. I'd occasionally plant a kiss on him before resting him back on top of my head. There was a certain meditational quality to this play that made homework somehow more palatable.

A year or two later, I woke up and went to feed Buddy, as I had done each morning and night since he'd come into my life. When I looked into his cage, however, I noticed he was laying on his back. His body was tensing up repeatedly and his front and back legs were crossed. His tongue was hanging out slightly from his tiny mouth. I was terrified.

"Mom," I called out, fighting back the tears. "Something is wrong with Buddy!" I refused to leave his side, even long enough to get my mother.

Ten minutes later, when it was time for me to be leaving for school, I still hadn't left Buddy's side.

"Mia, you have to go to school. Why aren't you ready?"

"I'm not going. I can't leave Buddy like this."

My mother clearly didn't understand the significance of this little creature in my life. "You can't miss school." My mother glanced briefly into the cage. "He's just having a seizure. I'm sure he'll be fine by the time you get home."

I still didn't want to leave him, but trusted my mother's reassurances. I hadn't hit adolescence yet and thus still did whatever my mother told me to do. So obediently I got dressed and went off to school.

When I got home from school, I knew in my heart what I was going to find, though I kept hoping very very hard that Buddy would be alive and no longer seizing.

Buddy's body was in the same position I'd last seen him in, but he was no longer seizing. Rolled on his back, his legs were stiffened into a crossed position. I felt a strong sadness that I hadn't been by Buddy's side when he'd left this world. I cried realizing he'd died alone. I felt a deep loneliness that I only imagined was his.


Jennynyc said...

How sad...

Jennynyc said...

Hi Mia, it's Barb. My first pet of significance was Jello the dog. When I was 5 he got hit by a car, and my mother told me he was at the vet and very sick and probably would die. With total confidence, I asked God to make Jello better. The next day my mom told me he died. I haven't been much for praying since!

nelc said...

our bird just died. he was eaten by a cat