RIP Lightning.

When you have children, you know you are in for a mixed bag. There are some things that you can’t wait for them to experience, such as nice food, playgrounds, friendship, parties and Christmas. But for every positive experience there is a negative one, and as parents, we have to be there with our kids for the bad bits too.

The trouble is, some of the less pleasant things can really affect us too. This is usually because we have experienced something similar as a child, and we can remember exactly how bad it made us feel. We don’t want our children to go through the same heartache we did, so we sometimes handle things unwisely.

I have a tendency to do this with friendship issues, so have to take myself firmly in hand when the girls come to me with their problems. Now I have had plenty of experience listening to girls who have been upset by other girls and now know to interfere as little as possible, and just offer tea and sympathy.

Last night, I had what I hope will be a less common problem to deal with.

The furry beastie with the long whiskers, in the photo above, died last night. He had a respiratory disease that almost all rats suffer from, but for some reason he became sicker than most and developed pneumonia.

When he stopped eating, I knew things were bad and was preparing myself to make some hard decisions. But in the end, I was too late and found him curled up dead in his cage last night.

Lightning was one of a pair of hooded rats DD1 received for her 8th birthday. They were the first pets that were just hers and so I knew she was going to be very upset by his death.

I lost a pet rabbit at a similar age and I was completely and utterly devastated, so I was hoping DD might take the news better than I had. I can remember lying on my bed trying to stop myself breathing so I could go and join my pet.

I agonised all night over the right way to tell her, but in the end just went in to her room first thing this morning, sat on her bed and told her. She was very tearful and wanted hugs from her sisters, who were also in tears. It made for rather dismal morning in this house.

I had Lightning lying in state downstairs, in case DD1 wanted to see him, but she didn’t. So I found an appropriately sized box and popped the poor ratty into cold storage (aka the freezer) until Saturday when we will bury him.

DD is working on an Order of Service and apparently has readings in mind for everyone. She wants us to sing, and would like to decorate a grave stone and put up a cross on his grave. We will go along with her plans but I’ve told her it mustn’t last more than 20 minutes as it will be cold outside.

She went to school sad, but dry-eyed this morning. We’ve decided it’s not fair to leave Thunder by himself as rats are very social animals, so we will go out sometime and find a couple of youngsters to keep him company. This plan has distracted DD from her loss for now, but I’m anticipating periods of tears and moodiness in the coming days.

 RIP Lightning

 August 2009- 28th November 2011.

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