Taking a week off work to spend time with my family has helped center my values a little bit.
I don't talk much about Vera, but she is a fantastic rat, a wonderful companion and an ambassador to her kind. She knows people only as friendly folk who pet her and feed her treats, they are her only source of companionship and she gladly reciprocates. She's been a member of our family for over three years and counting.
Last night we discovered a tumor growing under her arm. Rats that aren't subject to predation tend to go in one of two ways, respiratory failure or cancer. (I know I've typed that before, not just deja-vu). Anyways, looks like she's going the second route. So now we enter the hospice stage of our relationship, and I do my best to keep her comfortable until the conclusion.
It makes me a special kind of sad, not a mad-sad, but a melancholy-passage-of-time-sad. I knew this time would come, and I'm ready for it. The only time I have ever witnessed the calm passing of life was with my (Farron's) rat Alana, as her breathing slowed until it just wasn't there. Something was gone, and it was a new phase of our relationship, the phase of remembrance. My beliefs are that the only true afterlife are in the memories of those you touch, so it's important to hold them in esteem.
She's got a ways to go, I bet, so we'll have some more good times, hopefully get outside a little bit this spring, and when it concludes, I have a nice resting spot for her out behind the cottonwoods.