The cage is empty now. Little A, little Athena, named by my old roommate Sarah, passed away today. It was a hot day, a taste of sick in my mouth, the vibrations of the air conditioner. Athena was sickly from the beginning, sweet but wild, a skittish rat with a cough when we brought her home, and thought she wouldn't live.
She outlived her sister, Liza, who passed on March 28. Ten days. I imagine her ten days, her polka-dot shoebox empty by half, the fur-friend and companion gone. Without company, without someone to groom and scamper with, to cuddle with on cold nights and speak whatever inscrutable rat scribbles to. It must have been lonely. It must have seemed hopeless.
Perhaps she is happier now. I was looking at earlier posts in a completely narcissistic and time-squandering effort to properly tag things, and saw a picture of her in happier times. She was so cute and energetic, she loved to try and jump out of the old cage, and she loved to scamper around the North Hollywood apartment.
The turning point was when we moved to Waco and got the kitten. I admit I turned away from my little ratties a little bit, I was scared to let them run around and get lost in the small, cluttered house. Athena turned mean for awhile and began to bite. I felt for her, it must have been hard to go from free running favorites to a less favored place. Then we moved again to the Treehouse and I realized they must need more attention.
I blame myself a bit, I do. Rats don't live for very long. I'm reminded of the end of Bladerunner when he says, "It's too bad she won't live."
RIP Athena Lambert, 2008-2010.