I haven't posted in a couple days because I'm too sad to be funny.  My pet rat, Isabelle, passed away last night after a heartbreaking struggle with a brain tumor and multiple strokes.  She had been completely unable to move all day and I was holding her to my chest to comfort her.  I started to cry and my poor little paralyzed rat used her last bit of strength to reach out her paw and grasp my hand.  It was the last time she was able to move on her own.

I know that many won't understand my heavy grief over losing a rat.  Rats don't have the most glamorous reputation, and it is easy to think of such a small animal as being worth less than a dog or a cat.  But I loved Isabelle every bit as much as I've ever loved a dog.  She was my constant companion from the day I adopted her and her sister, Dora.  She was so intelligent and affectionate.  She was always excited to see me and would run to the front of her cage every time I walked by.  She would come to her name when I called her.  She loved to sit on my lap and give me rat-manicures, and she liked riding in my sweatshirt pocket when I went to the grocery store or when I was just sitting on the couch.  She was always docile and sweet - she never bit, even when the vet had to poke all sorts of needles into her in her final days.  Isabelle was my "ambassador rat."  She made many people into rat lovers - even people who used to be fearful of rats!  It's hard to be afraid of something when it's wiggling with excitement and licking you.

Isabelle had a wonderful life full of love, good food and playtime.  In the end, we did everything we could for her and I take comfort in that.  Still, it's not easy to see the empty spot where she always used to sleep and I had a little breakdown today when I was making food for our remaining rats.  I made too much because I was still counting Isabelle, and when I realized it, things really hit home a little bit.  She's really gone.

Rest in peace, my little monster-face.

If you are opposed to sappy pet memorials, I advise you skip this next part.  I put this up here because it helps me to have something like this to remember her by, and I like the idea of sharing a little bit of her with the world.

This is Isabelle:

Thank you for reading.

Update:  Thank you all for your wonderful comments.  I have gotten nothing but understanding and empathy, which warms my heart and completely restores my faith in the internet.

Ruby, your comment really touched me.  I remember being your age and losing my rat, Cedar.  I loved Cedar with every fiber of my being and when she passed, I thought I would never be able to love another pet the way I loved her.  15 years later, I still miss her terribly but I want you to know that I was able to love all the pets that came after Cedar just as much.  Love is wonderful in that it can never be wasted or used up.  We can never replace the people or animals we have loved, but the love we feel for them can be expanded.  I like to think of love as being stretchy.  It is easy to feel guilty when you start to love a new pet - like somehow that means you love your old friend less.  But when you think of love as being stretchy and able to expand, you can see that there will always be room for everything.  You can love as much as you want.

I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking about you, and I understand.  No matter how much this hurts, you're not alone.