We expected the last one, Addison, to go. This was a shock. Chibi seemed fine two or three days ago. Addison was old; Chibi was barely a year.
We found her cold and struggling to breath, and it was like a re-play. But once she was warm, Chibi started to move around and I thought it would be ok. Weak, sick, but I thought we could save her. Olivia and I bundled her in a tee-shirt of mine and raced across town to the emergency vet.
We handed her to the woman at the desk, who said “Oh, guys, I think it might be too late.”
Chibi had died on the way there, warm and bundled on Olivia’s shoulder. She left our life as she entered it, in a car, kept warm under Olivia’s chin.
They put Chibi in a box so we could take the tiny body home. They taped it closed, but we had to open it to make sure it was real. It happened too fast. We couldn’t even cry, the death came too suddenly for us to take it in
Even then, driving home, it didn’t seem real. This rat was too young and too vital to be dead yet.
Chibi was the single oddest rat I’ve ever owned. We named her after one of the lesser Totoros from Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro (My favorite Miyazaki film). Chibi was a hairless dumbo rat, one of those odd, wrong-looking things clever breeding can get you. But she had more character and personality that any other cageful of rats, more quirks, more peculiarities. Most un-ratlike in behavior and manner. I don’t know if this is typical of the breed, or if she was just that way by nature.
The two best pet rats I’ve ever had, Chibi and Addison; by chance both at the same time, in the same cage. And now, they die within three weeks of each other. And I’m wondering what I could have done. What if I’d checked her yesterday. What if I’d make sure her cage was in a warmer stop. What if…
Olivia and I sat and cried today, arms around each other. Not since she was a baby, a little girl small enough that I could pick her up and carry her, have I held her like this while she cried.
We bought a little rat when Addison died. Mocha, my kids named her, though for some reason I keep thinking of her as ‘Mukluk’. We brought her home to keep Chibi company and to keep her warm, since hairless rats tend to get cold. We’ve had the baby for only a couple weeks. And now she’s alone, and one part of me says get another rat. But the other part says no more pets. In the end this choice is going to be up to my kids, and I know what they’ll decide. Me, I want to seal my heart up again and not care, not buy any more pets. It’s easier than having it hurt.