What happened on November 6 is this:
I hadn’t cleaned Sam’s cage in a week, so it was high time to do so. The first thing that I always do is move Sam to a small critter carrier so he can’t run away. He usually puts up a fight, since he hates getting picked up. But this time, I found him just lying next to his chew tunnel. He didn’t move when I touched him. And he felt cold. So I immediately called the exotic animal vet and set up an appointment for within the hour. I then gathered up Sam and left.
I knew Sam was still alive because I heard him move a little bit on the drive over. He shifted a little bit. My heart was pounding in my chest and I was stopping myself from crying. I kept saying things out loud to him about how it would be okay.
Last time I had arrived at the vet, Sonny and I had had to wait for about 20 minutes, even though I called them and made an appointment for ASAP, just like now. That hadn’t been weird. But this time, as soon as I walked in, they immediately took Sam to the back. The nurse at the front desk asked me twice if I wanted water. I was shown into an exam room as soon as they had one available. That, more than anything else, told me how close to the end of the line Sam was. I was asked again if I wanted water.
Pretty soon the doctor walked into the exam room. Sam had a tumor, a big one, and it was causing him a lot of pain, and they could treat it, but it would be painful to treat, and it might not really be effective. I nodded. I said that I thought that was what she would say. She asked how he had been acting the last few days. I said that I hadn’t really looked at him on November 5 — I had worked at Petsmart, then got sick and went straight to bed — but that on November 4, he had been crawling up and down the sides of his cage and demanding Cheerios as usual. I said that I had noticed that he looked a little bigger than usual but just figured that he was fat. The vet nodded and said that animals did a really good job of hiding weakness.
I agreed to euthanize Sam.
“Do you want to say goodbye to him?” she asked.
I said yes.
Sam was brought in on a heating pad. He was completely still. He looked terrible, especially since he was lying right-side up, showing his sewn-up eye. I wondered if the tumor had been the cause of his mysterious hair loss I had noticed a few months ago.
He was too far gone to stop me from finally touching his tiny baby paws and his cute ears. I ran my finger down the length of his tail. It didn’t flick like it normally did. He didn’t care what touched him. His spirit was already gone. That was when I started crying. I may have already been crying, but that was when I started crying hard.
After a while I calmed down and when the vet came back in, I said that it was time. I agreed to be there when they put him down.
Sam fought for a bit. But he lay there and slowly finished dying. I told him what a brave little pirate mouse he was. I told the vet how he lost his eye. I told the vet about how he fought Moby over Christmas.
Sam didn’t live for very long, but he had lived an exciting life anyway.