I am looking at Sabrina. Her head is hanging out the window and the air is moving beneath her floppy ears, giving rise to them in a way that suggests her body is capable of flight. She makes my heart feel lighter, her being so free, finding joy in simple things.
The fruity fragrance from the pine trees that pass in my periphery along the road departing from the Weston Reservoir penetrates the air. A grand estate appears. David Gilmore’s voice fills the car; he’s singing “Lost for Words,” accompanied by his faithful guitar. His words are deeply personal and introspective and each line advances me to the next moment. I can see his fingers strumming each chord.
I had left the house an hour and change before, worrying about the chilly temperature, the state of the ground. If I’d be able to dig into the soil. The Reservoir, me and Sabrina’s favorite haunt, is where, after visiting the vet, I intended to bury one of our beloved “girls.”
The last three weeks had been difficult, watching her struggle, losing the ability to groom herself and topple over; her body emaciated. I knew the day was coming—when it was up to me to play God and snuff out her remaining life. It had eaten away at me, causing me to dream images of her body’s decay from the inside out. She, “Bobbin,” is a member of our rescued menagerie; she rides atop my shoulder as I do chores around the house, a pet rat that shows me affection like any dog or cat might.
Let me interject a matter of opinion here: I am not some weird lab geek or a questionable hermit with a strange fetish. I hold an advanced degree and am attractive athlete, feminine, hailing from an affluent area, and here to tell you, rats make great pets.
And in light of the extent of our menagerie and experience with rescuing animals from neglect and abandonment—ranging in species from amphibian to fish to reptile to rodent to lagomorph to feline to canine—each one understands you’ve taken them from hellish conditions to a life where they’re provided for and loved on and, in some form or another, they give all that back and more.
Bobbin. I had arrived at the vet around 9 a.m., having made a shaky-voiced call indicating my decision to put her down only twenty-five minutes before, checked in and sat down on the bench in the reception area. The clinic was busy and chaotic. Cradling Bobbin in my hands I envisioned golden light surrounding her and tried to help myself feel better by breathing deep into my belly and blinking away my tears. Sabrina had put her head on my knee, a gesture that indicated, I’m here for you, Mama.