My little rat, Mercedes, known as Mercy, died in her sleep last night, presumably as a complication of her mammary tumour. She was approximately 2 years 4 months old, and led a happy little life that brought even greater happiness to my family, most of all to me.
I was expecting her to succumb to her tumour fairly soon after I last saw her just over a fortnight ago, when I was home from university. She was still very much the Mercy we all knew and loved, but she had lost a little spark of vitality, and was under apparent strain with the tumour and her arthritis. She was such a resilient and brave soul, and would still attempt to climb the bars of her cage to greet anyone who passed it, even though the strength in her little legs was not there.
I am, of course, devastated that I couldn't be there to say a final goodbye to her, but in some ways I think her passing was the best it could be. According to my family, she was pretty perky and happy in the evening, and was found curled up in her nest the next morning. She more than likely went to sleep as the lights in the house went out, as usual, and passed very peacefully. I am so very, very glad, that I didn't have the long, drawn-out saga of her steady decline, as happened with my other two RB ratties, Tia Maria and Flossie. I'm glad I didn't have to give the final word to my family to take her to be PTS. I'm glad she was comfortable, and in familiar surroundings, in her last hours. Some of that I say with my vet-head, the rest with my heart.
It almost seems, as well, that she timed her passing to see the family through some hardship. My grandfather became very ill with cancer earlier in the year, and my mother ended up as his full time carer, taking leave from her job and watching her last blood relative (other than myself and my brother) decline, and eventually die of a heart attack before her own eyes. Following that, she then went through a very bad patch - losing a lot of weight, and being prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping pills. This was a huge strain on the family, and not ideal in my already stressful exam period, at which I go near insane anyway. It was very difficult trying to be as calm as possible, to make things easier for my mum, whilst trying also to devote as much attention as possible to study. Throughout ALL of this, Mercy had her problems, but she was always there, for all of us, as a companion, confidante, and best friend.
In the past week or so, my exams are over, life in London is getting back to normal, and my mum has come off her medication and is back at work, feeling that she's over the worst and ready to move on. And thus it seems like Mercy took stock that we were all OK now, and quietly took her leave. I like to think of it that way, anyway.
I'll miss her to bits, especially so when I go back home, some time in the future, and she isn't there. All my ratties have been characters, and she certainly was no exception. I have so many brilliant memories with her, and she will never be forgotten.
This was a thread I posted last week, showing some of the last pics we have of her. You can see that, although she's clearly aged, she's happy, and I'm just so thankful she was happy right until the very end.
Rest gently, my Mercy Ratte. Know that you were loved so very much, by so many.