Friday, February 03, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Delilah

Today was a heartbreaking day. Today I lost a new friend. Her name is Delilah, and she will forever be a six week old Russian Blue rat with a downy grey head, a tiny white body with a single grey dapple on her back, and a rainbow blankie she called home for two days.

I realize that to some this will be a ridiculous post, but that realization calls something deep and fundamental into question - what's a life worth? Are some lives worth more than others? Is it worth it, say, to take a two inch long pet with a horrible bronchial infection to the vet and spend $150 only to wait on pins and needles the next day while the vet tries to save her life by putting her in an oxygen chamber?

Is it worth it to be late to work so you can drive up to a hillside cemetery with a 4x4" box with a butterfly sticker on it and a tiny, extinquished life inside, then dig by the root of a tall, tall cyprus in the corner of a rough, red brick wall and bury that little box and cry so hard snot runs freely down your face, which it hasn't done since you were three?

When we pay money to a store in exchange for a new pet, we are saying, implicitly, "Yes, I am now responsible for your tiny heart and lungs, your wide brown eyes, the terrible bacteria waiting to put you to sleep so you'll never wake up, and the softest breath and tickle of fur on the back of your neck, just behind your ears. I promise to keep you safe and warm, to feed you yummy things and to be your friend until the end."

To my fiancee and I, being allowed to make this promise to Delilah was worth it. She ate oatmeal cookie crumbs, a french fry tip, one quarter of a yogurt drop and half a Regal Rat biscuit. She met our bigger girls and ran about on our kitchen table sniffing new things, including: sixx unscented votive candles, Daisy's bum, her new fleece blankie, an Amaryllis plant, my face, neck, ear and nose, Effie's bum, her flowerpot house, and Cortney's chest. She, in turn, was sniffed by Daisy, kissed repeatedly by me, whispered to by Cortney, groomed by Effie and the Amaryllis left her entirely untouched.

Bless you, sweet girl, and I hope you had sweet dreams.

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