Sunday, May 3, 2015

Waiting is the hardest part.

Boris is dying.


Today was our annual Spring Faire fundraiser at work.  It's also the grand opening of the butterfly house for the season, and I am in charge of the butterflies.  I had planned to get to work at 7 to get things done.... and that meant that I had to get the dog peed and the cat fed and the rats checked on before that.

The dog peed.
The cat ate.
The rats.....

Vincent came right out when I turned on the lights in the Rat Room.  I called for Boris a few times.  Boris is a little older than Vincent (although they're both over 2 1/2, which is rather elderly for a rat) and has a bit of hind end paralysis, and has always slept quite hard.

Boris was very still.  His breathing was shallow.  His eyes weren't totally shut.  His hind legs were a bit twitchy.

I have been the human caretaker of 11 rats in my lifetime.  9 of them have already followed the Death of Rats to the other world.  I know what's coming.

As much as it killed me to go to work, I had no choice.  It was too big of an event to miss, and already understaffed.  I petted Boris before I left, and cried, and told him that he could go whenever he needed to, and not to wait for me if the Death of Rats came.

I spent the next 8 hours pretending I was okay.

As soon as I got the last guest out of the butterfly house, I bailed.  I didn't stay to clean up.  I hope my coworkers understand that I am very serious about being there for the dying.

He's still alive.  Barely.  I have been sitting with him off and on for the last six hours, arm in the cage, pinky finger barely touching him, whispering

i love you it's okay you can go i'm so sorry it's okay you can go i love you i'm sorry i'm sorry i'm sorry i love you i'm sorry please forgive me i tried i don't know how to make this easier i love you i'm sorry it's okay you can go i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you

I leave the room to walk the dog, to eat something, to shower, to cry, to vomit out words onto a screen.  Sometimes Death likes to work in private, and won't come if someone is watching.  I try to leave all the options open.

Vincent has been sitting with his friend for the last 3 hours.  Occasionally he grooms him, or puts his paws on Boris's face.  I lure him away with a cheerio so I can see if Boris is still breathing.

He's still breathing.  Barely.

I will continue my vigil until I cannot stay awake a second longer.  I will take a catnap, and then I will wake again to repeat this process.  I have to be at work again in 11 hours, and I don't think my heart can handle leaving him tomorrow if he is still alive.  I do not know how he is still alive right now.

Please, Death of Rats, please, come for Boris.  Come for my friend.  Lead him to that other world.  Let his poor tired body rest.  Please.

Oh Boris.  I'm so sorry.

I hate the waiting.

I'm so sorry.

EDIT:  Boris died sometime between 10 and 11:30 this morning, while I was teaching.  He had seizures all the way till the end.  Vincent was with him, in a travel carrier on my desk.  I wish it was not so hard for the Death of Rats to lead my friend away.  28+ hours is a long time.  Still, I am grateful.  Death is not all that bad.  It's the dying part that's hard.

Tomorrow, Vincent begins his new life as a Briefcase Rat.  He's coming to work with me every day so he doesn't get lonely.  We will have each other to lean on as we grieve.

My heart hurts.

22 comments:

  1. Im so sorry to hear about poor Boris. I hope this doesnt sound cruel or harsh but while I do wish he wouldnt die, I do hope his passing is swift and painless. That he wont suffer. Big hugs

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    1. Thank you. I understood your sentiment exactly. May we all go swiftly and painlessly.

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  2. :( sigh ... sending you so much love, dear friend. Yes, I know the feeling. Death took Mom when no one was watching. She wanted to go alone so she could spare me the pain. He's in good hands, he has Vincent ... and he knows. They all do.

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    1. More of my animals required help passing than died without help, and of the ones who died without help, only two allowed me to be there when it happened. Everyone else waited till I was gone. I wonder what I will do, if I have the choice...

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  3. I'm so sorry. I bawled like a baby when I read this. It's so very hard to watch your pets suffer.

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    1. Witnessing suffering that you cannot ease is truly one of the worst parts about being alive.

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  4. I am sorry to hear this, I will be thinking about you both.

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  5. As much as I love having pets, this is the part I just don't think I can deal with anymore. It's easier when they live in the forest and I can't tell one from the other so I don't know when they die. I'm so sorry, Leslie. :(

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    1. I had gotten out of the rat game for this exact reason... these are not my rats, exactly (they are more like my coworkers), but they live with me and I am their caretaker. I have known them since they were very young. My heart cannot take this again.

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  6. Sending you and Vincent lots and lots of love and healing energy. The humans and animals in my house are very sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thank you. We are still learning how to be in this new reality.

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  7. My deepest sympathies for your loss.

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    1. Thank you. It never gets easier.

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  8. even knowing the outcome before i read this i still cried. E sends hugs and lots of positive vibes. she is glad that Vincent will be going to work with you because she was *very* concerned about Vincent being lonely. i think for being 4, she conceptualizes death pretty well.

    happy trails, Boris. you were a good rat. enjoy the heavenly cheese plate and endless turns on the running wheel.

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    1. If only more 4-year-olds (and every-year-olds) were that way. It's inescapable, and it's everywhere, and there are things in this world that are far worse than death. We fear it too much and still pretend that it's not there. It's not a healthy system.

      Vincent and I both miss him, but we are learning our new daytime work routine. He still tries to hog all the sunflower seeds, though, even though there is nobody else there to eat them. Makes me tear up a little bit every time.

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    2. i guess from my own experience i know that it is sad, and that's okay. and being sad for a long time is okay. and you need to talk about it and not ignore it, because it's real and it happens.

      and maybe Vincent isn't hogging the seeds. maybe he's just eating an extra one for his fallen comrade :)

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    3. He did it while Boris was alive. They were very greedy little monsters when it came to treat time. I don't think Vincent could savor a treat if he tried.

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  9. I'm so sorry about sweet Boris! I felt like I knew him. You and Vincent take care.

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    1. Thank you. We are still learning how to live without him.

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  10. I'm really sorry to read this news. Belated, but my thoughts are with you.

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    1. Thank you. It's still hard. Vincent is lonely.

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