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.