We love you Walter!

Walter died. He was such a good rat. We had suspicions that it was coming- he started leaning to one side and acting a little funny about a month ago, but we watched him for a while and he didn’t seem in pain, so we thought he’d possibly had a stroke. Then we noticed a few days ago that he’d gotten thin- he’s always been the more robust of the two, but Dill looked much sturdier. And then he was gone. I’ll really miss the little guy- he was the more social of the two, always so friendly and bright. I feel bad for Dill, he seems sad now. We had a little service for him and buried him under the lilacs. He was just over 2 years old, which I guess is an average lifespan for a rat. I felt compelled to sing this song that has really spoken to me lately- it goes like this:

"From all that dwell below the skies
let hope and faith and love arise
Let peace, goodwill on earth be sung
In every land by every tongue."

These things happen, but they leave me contemplating my closeness to the other living things in my life, how deeply I’ve chosen to love them all, and how much that could hurt me someday. I mean, just looking at my sleeping family nestled next to me early in the morning is enough to make my physical heart hurt a little. I choose not to dwell on thoughts like this (that I could lose them), but I find some value in the recognition that this life is fleeting, reminding me daily to soak in the precious moments that I have with my loves. I have faith in pain and death- all of it purposeful and in many ways just a testament to how cool the human heart is. I choose to embrace my losses and trust that they have a lesson to teach me. I am not immune, however, to the fear that accompanies it all. I don’t want to lose the things that I love. I’m scared of the unknown. I’m scared that I won’t have time. This is part of why I feel like I have to believe in a power greater than myself. I believe in the tapestry of life that is woven together with love and spirit and beauty. Pain is part of it too. I have to surrender these fears and just continue to live with joy and purpose, taking each loss as it comes, and doing my best to heal in ways that do not leave me scarred but stronger and wiser.


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Comments (14)

  1. brigittefires

    “From all that dwell below the skies
    let hope and faith and love arise
    Let peace, goodwill on earth be sung
    In every land by every tongue.”

    I learned that line at church as “Let songs of hope and trust arise.”

    Just goes to show what different traditions do with the lyrics. If you search through the hymnal at the UUAA church, you’ll probably find a lot of songs you grew up with, but may have slightly tweaked lyrics.

    1. poppleshatesyou

      I was just going to mention that those lines are from a UU song i know.

    2. Gracie (Post author)

      How interesting! Actually, I learned those lyrics from UU- perhaps they changed it or I got it wrong… Anyway, I knew that song from when I was a kid, although I learned it like this:

      Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
      Praise him, all creatures here below,
      Praise him above ye heavenly host,
      praise father, son, and holy ghost.

      Anyway, I liked the new lyrics for my purposes- and as a bedtime song for Vera. 🙂

  2. ladyfaith3

    That is a beautiful post, my condolances on the loss of your little friend. It is a blessing to recognize how valuable our loved ones are. It is a blessing to accept that there is a time and season for all of our lives. 🙂

  3. pithy_epigrams

    RIP Walter. May he run through fields of cheese in the nether-worlds.

  4. poppleshatesyou

    C ya little walter! I bet you had the bestest little ratty life you could have asked for. I was always a little devastated when my pet rats passed on. Death as part of life and all, still sad. hugs!

  5. hanitious

    I’m sorry about Walter 🙁 I get what you mean about loving the living things in your life so deeply, I get a sick feeling whenever I think about losing something (someone) that I love be it Ant, family, friends, pets or anything really! but then again I’d never want to be one of those people who can’t love at all. Walter was lucky to have grown in a loving household like yours 🙂

    RIP little man. x

  6. 93_millionmiles

    Awww. 🙁

  7. vianna_dufaye

    Its sad about Walter. 🙁 But I hope he was at least comfortable the last few days.

    One of the most important things about loving someone or something, is the ability to love without attachment. The only way you can truly appreciate something, is when you don’t feel you need it. So just love. And when things come and go (and they always do) you can feel blessed for the time you had, and be open again for new things.

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thanks, I think he was okay, my guess is he had another stroke or something.

      I’m interested in what you have to say here. I agree with most of this, but I’m confused by this statement:

      “The only way you can truly appreciate something, is when you don’t feel you need it.”

      I find that to be the opposite for many people. I dunno though, maybe I’m misinterpreting.


      1. vianna_dufaye

        See. When you need something, or think you need something – then regardless of whether or not you appreciate it r how much, you are dependent upon it.
        Whereas, if you have no requirements for it, but chose to keep it around AND cherish anyway, then it means you likely genuinely want it around.
        But then, this could just be my seat. I have no idea how to effectively explain this. Feh. I’m sorry.

  8. Anonymous

    Love to you and your family. Rats can be amazing creatures and awesome pets. Years ago I lost our rats, Ramona and then Mert. They were lovely and kind and so smart and funny! It broke my heart when they passed away.

    Walter was a lucky rat to live with you folks and his sidekick, Dill.

    Beautiful post.

  9. see_anotherside

    I’m sorry about Walt 🙁

    I felt the same way when my guinea pig died last year… I’d had him for years and he was such a sweet little thing. I have a new piggy now but I still think about Nibbler sometimes. They have very different personalities and it’s funny to compare!

    It is amazing how attached we become to animals and people – and yes, eventually it can be heartbreaking and scary too. But I agree that there’s no point in avoiding feeling deep love for our families, because that love and pain is just part of life and I think we have to deal with every human emotion at some time or another. When something dies, it makes you think and appreciate what you’ve got more than ever. At least that part is good…

  10. aamour

    oh my gosh… i love that picture SO much.
    … and i’m sorry your rat died 🙁


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