Friday, March 12, 2010

Coffee's Last Breath

Most of the stuff I post here now is personal stuff these days (since I started my other blog), and it's unfortunate that most of the personal stuff is rather sad stuff... today is no exception, and it's also about a death of one of my gerbils... but unlike Peanut, which I posted about some time ago, the death of Coffee, which happened a couple of days ago, was very much more special. And while I have been mum over the deaths of other gerbils, this one was so special, I have to pay tribute to Coffee on my blog.

Coffee is the daddy of all my other gerbils... except for my original mummy gerbil, Girl Girl, who is now, also dead. Gerbil was Girl Girl's son, who was born along with another female gerbil, Honey (she's still alive). This is Honey and Coffee (the slightly darker one) when they were kids, born around December 2006

After some time, Coffee turned from dark brown to half brown and black, which you can see in his teenager pic, where he's on the left looks pretty weird, like most teens do.

And here he was, completely black, after he mated with his mum (yes, I know it sounds wrong) and became the proud big daddy of a bunch of little gerbs.

These guys are cute to bits when they are young. But they are grew up, of course, and now my gerbils are all over 3 years old now, and that makes them grandmas and grandpas in gerbil age. So they've been dying off one by one. After Peanut, I found my mummy gerbil dead one day (pretty late too coz' her body was quite eaten up by ants already), and a couple of months later, my smallest and slightly off balance female gerbil, Chomper, bit the dust too. In both cases, I could see them both weakening and slowing down a week or two before, and had much reduced appetite, so I figured they were getting ready to go. And when I found them dead, it was not unexpected, and I was sad, but didn't cry. I just wrapped them up in newspapers and threw them out in the trash. A bit impersonal, I know, but with their bodies already stiff and decaying, I didn't want to be holding on to them too long.

So a week ago, when I noticed Coffee starting to really slow down, become very inactive, and , I knew his time was running out. I checked him often to see how he was doing, and a couple of days ago when I noticed him being really sleep and refusing to eat his favourite kuaci, I took him out for a run around my room, thinking that it might be one of his last chances to enjoy a bit of freedom. He did run around a bit, but he looked like a sleepy old grandpa.

So I gave him a few head rubs, and talked to him a bit. I'd always liked Coffee and like to call him my 'good boy' coz' he doesn't bite me when I'm holding him... he just sits in my hands and even seems to like it when I rub his head. So I consider Coffee my favourite gerbil... and told him I didn't want him to die. He looked at me sleepily some more. So I put him back in his cage, and went out for a couple of hours.

When I got back, I went to his cage again, and saw him sitting in one corner, away from his fellow gerbils, and it looked like he was slowly chewing something... but it was unusual behaviour. So I opened the cage and took him out to have a look. He wasn't chewing anything, but slowly gasping for breath. I knew something was wrong. I thought maybe he would like some banana, so I carried him over to the dining table, ready to feed him some. But suddenly his body started going into spasms, jerking so hard, I had to hold him tight so I didn't drop him. Then his body started squeezing inwards like something invisible was pressing hard against him. I had NO idea what was happening, I could only watch helplessly and all this happened in my hands. Then, as his body relaxed again, he let out one last breath and... he was dead.

There I was holding my Coffee's lifeless body in my hands, shocked at what just happened. And my mum certainly wasn't very sympathetic, she saw what went on when he was in spasms, and when I worriedly asked out loud what was happening to him, she nonchalently said he was dying. And when he was dead, she just said, at least he waited for me before he died.

I didn't cry at the death of my other gerbils (except my original Peanut, and I cried only out of anger at my dad)... but seeing all that happened with Coffee, my favourite gerbil, I couldn't help but cry. I do wonder if he actually wanted me to hold it when it died... or was it just a coincidence? Did he feel comfortable when I held it, so much that he decided it was the right time to go? I don't know, but I would like to think so

Unlike the other gerbils, I couldn't bear to throw Coffee out in the dumpster. His body was still warm and hadn't stiffened... and I sat in my room for a while, holding him while crying, hoping that somehow he would wake up, and feeling so strange that I could lift him up, poke him, and there would be no reaction from him. So after a while I took his body downstairs to my condo's garden (this was late at night, btw), dug up a small plot at the corner, and buried him there. I hope something nice grows there... like maybe a sunflower.

Watching him die was truly surreal. I'd never seen something die of natural causes right in front of me. And it made me wonder a lot of things... like did Coffee have a spirit that went somewhere after he died? Is there a gerbil heaven? Or will he and all my other gerbils go to people heaven? And it made me wonder how some people can NOT believe in spirits or souls... there is an essence in all living creatures that makes them ALIVE. The body is just a container... but even though the body is still normal and can function, like in Coffee's case, he was perfectly healthy all this time, and was just old... for some reason, that 'life' inside of him was there one second, and the next... it was gone. For no apparent reason... he wasn't sick, he wasn't injured... but he died. Where did his life essence go?

It's also a grim reminder that one day, that will happen to me too. And I hope, not only will I die of natural causes, but like Coffee, that I will die in the hands...or rather, arms of someone who cares about me. I'm really sad seeing Coffee die... but I would rather all my gerbils die in my hands then any other way. And the fact that he, being my favourite gerbil, and dying in such a way, although sad, but it was very special to me. I guess seeing something you care about die in front of you, but you are powerful to stop it, really gave me something to think about. Ironic that it's so easy to take away a life... but we are completely powerless to give it back.

Rest in piece, Coffee buddy, and do I hope I get to play with you some more in people heaven. :)