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Thursday, April 21, 2011


August 12, 2009 - April 21, 2011

What a horrible week we had.  Sad, because it was Spring Break for the kids—it turned out to be a Spring Break we'd all rather forget.

Ginger started showing signs of illness on Friday.  The gerbil we knew and loved who worked hard to build elaborate nests in the gerbil cage, who loved sour cream & onion potato chips and sunflower seeds, and who was fond of sitting on MiniMe's shoulder while she worked on her computer, just didn't seem herself.  She wasn't as active.  She seemed a little sad.  We all took notice, but nobody said anything.

Until Sunday.

Sunday morning, LittleDude brought her in to me, extremely worried.  "She's not moving," he said.

I took little Ginger into my hand and stroked her tiny back with a single finger.  She was hunched over, her eyes half-closed.  Clearly, she wasn't feeling well.  Her tiny body felt frail and nothing like the robust little girl we'd laughed about and lovingly called fat.  I held her close to my chest, cupping her with my hand, hoping my body heat would help heal her.  Praying she'd be able to feel how much I loved her, how much we all loved her, and wanted her to get better.

Monday morning, I start calling veterinarians.  It wasn't long before I was hollering for the kids to get dressed so we could take Ginger to be seen.  We brought Miranda, our other gerbil, with us, because I'd read that when one of a pair of gerbils is sick, the other can be a comfort.

Even the vet could tell she'd lost a lot of weight.  Her body temperature was dropping.  The doctor couldn't give us much hope.  She felt some type of abnormality in Ginger's abdomen, but couldn't say for certain what it was.  We could have had her x-rayed, put her through a full diagnostic procedure, but I didn't see the point.  The poor thing was already miserable; I just wanted to make what little time she had left with us comfortable.  The vet gave her fluid injections and sent us home with antibiotics and special food.

We isolated Ginger from Miranda.  Part of the reason was the fact we didn't know what was wrong.  If it was contagious, we didn't want Miranda to catch it.  The other part?  The other part of the reason was I was watching her day and night.  Every hour or two I would try to coax her to eat.  To drink.  At night, I brought her little cage upstairs with me and set her up on a table right next to my bed.  I'd wake up during the night to make sure she was still breathing.

We were all surprised and very encouraged when she survived the night.  She even seemed to be moving a little more and a little easier.  Hope filled the household.

Later that afternoon, LittleDude came downstairs with shocking news.  Miranda had died suddenly.  Here we were fighting to keep our sick little gerbil alive and the healthy one died suddenly and without explanation.  I had trouble comprehending it.  It didn't make sense.  Not to me.  Not to LittleDude.  We buried Miranda under a tree in the backyard and prayed even harder for Ginger.

That little gerbil who had brought us so much happiness fought hard for three days, but I think it became too much.  Too hard.  And I think she knew her cagemate was gone.

On Thursday, I had to go to run a couple errands.  I wanted to take both my kids with me, since we all needed a break, but when I tried to feed Ginger that morning, she refused to eat.  She refused to drink.  I was worried.  I left MiniMe to watch her, and LittleDude and I left.

I still have the text message MiniMe sent me when LittleDude and I were in the grocery store.

I think we lost her.

It was a simple, short little phrase that instantly shot pain through my heart.  I called her and confirmed I was reading it right.  LittleDude reacted as poorly as I'd feared he would, crying and banging his head on the grocery store shelves.  We grabbed the few things we absolutely needed, paid, and left.

We buried Ginger under the tree next to Miranda.  During our little family memorial service, LittleDude finally came to terms with the loss of our pets, and he poured his heart out over their graves.

We miss those little gerbils; we always will.  We're thankful they were part of our lives and our family, but sad they were taken from us so soon.  LittleDude is comforted knowing Ginger and Miranda are playing together again in heaven.  He's happy to know Ginger's not sick anymore—she's once again the happy little gerbil she used to be.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Memoriam

August 12, 2009 - April 19, 2011

We lost a cherished member of our family today. We first got her in August, 2009 as a reward for LittleDude and his good behavior. We brought her home and learned that gerbils, while they can live singly, prefer to be in pairs. The next day we picked up our second gerbil in the hopes that having the two would extend their lifespans.

The two gerbils had very different personalities. Our brown one, Ginger, was always the nester. When their cages were cleaned out, she was the one who would spend hours building their new nest. Miranda, on the other hand, was the active one. She would run and run and run. We'd put her in the gerbil ball in the foyer, and before long we'd have to search the house for her. She especially loved running the length from the breakfast room to the utility room -- boy, could she get up some speed!

Over this past weekend, Ginger fell ill. She's still hanging on, but the vet gave her a poor chance of survival. We'd been fighting so hard for her life—hand feeding her special food, trying to convince her to drink water, administering antibiotics by teeny-tiny syringe—it came as a complete shock to me when LittleDude informed me we'd lost Miranda. He handed her to me with shaking hands, her tiny body still warm, but unmoving. I'm still in shock.

While these small animals, who very quickly became a large part of our family, were technically LittleDude's, I was the one who cared for them. Who fed them, watered them, and cleaned their cages. Miranda's death has been absolutely devastating.

Rest in peace, Little Girl. We miss you already.