Last night Liza died, my little rat friend. She was with me since my breakup with Tod, she and her sister Athena were with me through the North Hollywood apartment, through Sarah's tenancy. The first date I went on with Katie I lured her over to my apartment with the promise of rat babies. Rat babies. She is an old rat now.
Liza was named for Liza Minnelli, the diva who did one thing brilliantly and rode on it for as long as she could. It strikes me that she is still alive. She played the Hollywood bowl last year, Gabe and Jerry went. At Thanksgiving Jerry told me that her voice was gone, strained, but she worked the crowd with that echo of memory.
Liza Lambert is just an echo, now, her heaving, emaciated body, struggling to breathe, now silenced. When K and I returned from our Nevada trek, she and her sister did not look well. We had left them in good hands, pet-sitting, harspichord playing, friend and neighbor S. had managed our zoo quite well.
But Liza. That day she barely moved, refused food, sat still on the highest level of the cage. She was a wonderful creature in her youth, scampering around my apartment, tunneling on the bedsheets, never biting. I admit that she was my favorite, the first to arrive.
We knew that the prognosis wasn't good when the vet tech ushered us in to a room painted with a clumsy pet heaven mural. Cats, dogs, unspecified rodents and bunnies were hopping down a path in recklessly irregular perspective. Some large, some small, a snake in a sort of Eden-esque tree, we looked for apples, there were none. There was a choice to be made and it wasn't good. They brought her in in a pink blanket.
The worst moment was the last moment, holding her before she was to be put down. She was so sick that her fur had fallen out in patches, wraithlike, her teeth grinding. I cried. I could not look away.
We buried her at Echo Park lake, letting the box drift farther and farther down in the dark water. She was still wrapped in the pink blanket, flowers woven in the tiny carrier, the same one in which I had first taken her home.
Sleep well, dear Liza.