Dying young

There is only one thing which makes it very hard for me to accept the departure of a pet. It is when it didn’t live its full lifespan, especially if it died so suddenly, without any hint or warning.

Beria-girdel was a Boolagang, one of the three daughters of Berio and Mochahontas. She was a very active and lively hamster. I mated her with Wigwam when she was in heat on September 2; incidentally that was 16 days before my birthday, which means her babies were expected to be born on my birthday. But like Snowy and the elder Beria, she got birthing problems.

On September 18, she suddenly became dormant and I could hear her groans. To make it worst, she refused to touch her food. The daytime passed without sign of any babies, only bleeding. Since there were still the hours of the night to complete one day, I dared not to touch her because I was afraid I could do her more harm than good. Finally a portion of the first baby came out the following day. She was straining very hard but unable to push it out, I had to pull it gently; and I could see her feeling of relief when it came out. Minutes later came out the other small lifeless bodies all by themselves one by one.

My mother used to tell me her story about how she suffered when she gave birth to me — I was born by breech birth and came out a “blue baby” … I was seemingly lifeless — still, not breathing and didn’t cry or made any response to the new world outside. If not for the expertise of the midwife, who needed to hold me upside down by my feet and snap me at my buttocks, I’m not here at this moment telling this or my hamsters’ story. The birth ‘crippled’ my mother for a month or two.

Beria-girdel’s last attempt to “crawl” to her sleeping spot (she was literally pulling her hind legs) was still very clear in my memory. By the look in her deepened eyes, I can feel as if she was saying:

“It’s alright, Robert… just let me ‘go’ — I’m dying.”

Late that night, after two days of intense labor stress, Beria-girdel died very solemnly. It was two days after my birthday, just less than 40 days ago. Again, another moment of mournful crying for my poor little pet. I couldn’t restrain the tears in my eyes as I buried her small body early the next morning — Autumnal Equinox, the first day of the Fall…

Beria-girdel lived for only six months and 15 days.

“Rubbing frenzy” (Remembering Beria-girdel)