I am sad today. It seems our hamster has cancer. I took him to an exotics vet today and got the bad news. He’s still doing fairly well, but this is the start of our long good-bye with this little creature, who has shared our house for the last two years. I’ve been in a bit of a funk ever since. And yes, the tears have been flowing.
“Our hamster has cancer” … It sounds like some kind of sick-o Dr. Seuss thing, doesn’t it? Seriously, some words should not be allowed to rhyme. Rhyming is for happy words or funny words or silly words. It shouldn’t be for words like “cancer”.
The weird thing is that none of us have ever particularly liked this hamster. He is a grouchy, grumpy, frumpy, grumbly, vile sort of creature. He is very territorial about his cage, so, if he’s in a bad mood, he will climb up the side bars and gnaw on them. He lays his ears back along his head and squints his eyes at us while he eats, so that it looks like he is scowling at the world. He is very grabby with food and treats. He digs a lot, and he likes to toss his stuffing about. He flings it with abandon, often outside of the cage when we are standing nearby, as if to show his complete and utter contempt for our existence. And he bites. Hard. He is not the kind of hamster one can pick up and cuddle or love. Or even pet. That is, unless one wants to lose a finger.
All of which is in stark contrast to our previous hamster, who was, without a doubt, the sweetest hamster in all of creation. Just to give you an idea of the contrast in their personalities, our first hamster was titled: “Harry Potter Hamster, the Sweetest Hamster in the World”, and our current hamster is called, simply: “Frownie Brownie”. Poor guy. It’s not his fault that he had to follow in paw-steps that were so hard to fill.
So why, then, am I feeling sad about the impending demise of this greedy, grumpy, grouchy hamster? That feeling of “ick” I had when the vet confirmed my worst fears, like a punch to the gut and a fist squeezing around my heart, took me completely by surprise. I was not expecting to cry for this critter. I was not expecting to feel anything, really, other than a bit of relief that I wouldn’t have to clean his cage any more. That makes me sound like the most horrible person, doesn’t it?
But here’s the thing: Brownie may, in fact, be frowny. He may be grumpy and grouchy and all those other things, too. But he’s OUR frowny, grumpy, grouchy hamster. Over the course of the past two years, he’s wormed his way into our hearts, without us ever realizing it. Even though we can’t cuddle him, he comes up to the side of the cage to say hello when he hears us. If he’s in a sunny sort of mood, he will take food from our fingers. He is very cute when he overstuffs his cheek pouches and makes his face pooch out at the sides. He has “Dr. Seuss” feet, which are adorable. And he does have a bit of a fluffy look about him, too. He might not let us hold him in our hands, but he steps bravely into his upturned igloo so that I can move him from his cage to his little carrier. Or even so that I can just lift him up to give him a better view of the world. He’s just a teeny little creature bravely facing a gigantic, often incomprehensible, world. And he’s doing it with gusto and bravado … just being the best hamster he knows how to be.
And, well, we got used to him. To the scrabbling sounds of him digging in his stuffing. To the rattle of his wheel at three in the morning. To the little thumping sound of him running through his tubes. To the way he rustles around in his food dish, trying to find the very tastiest pellet — which he will then either bury in his cage or leave on his wheel, where it will rattle around. I suppose, once he is gone, there will be a little, hamster-shaped void in our hearts and our lives. It’s hard to realize how much something means to you just when it’s time to say good-bye.
For what it’s worth, Frownie Brownie, you are a vile and unpleasant creature. You are loved. And, you will be missed. I suppose that’s all any of us can hope for, in the end.