In memoriam - Penny Lane Mouse - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-06-2005, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy In memoriam - Penny Lane Mouse

Or "Penny Lane Mouse - A Catharsis Via Keyboard" <br><br>(Please note: Catharses can be quite long... or even longer)<br><br>
<b>Prologue:</b><br><br>Despite owning 5 cats (n.b. : all indoor and thus, save for one(!), decidedly less predatory - the vestige of their hunting instincts manifest only in their fascination with the occasional appearance of a cockroach), I recently developed a habit, or, rather, a love of keeping mice. <br>My newfound love of rodents commenced with my buying a piebald mouse (Boingo) and a pale dun mouse (Oingo) - both female, of course - for my boyfriend, who desperately wanted a pet yet who lived/lives in an apartment with a strict anti-uncaged/tanked pet policy. Because my boyfriend had been so busy at the time I acquired Oingo and Boingo, he initially - though not, as we later learned, intentionally - showed little interest in keeping them. And so, predictably, my family became very attached to timid Oingo and tame Boingo.<br>Then... "My boyfriend's back and he wanted now the mice - Hey Na, my boyfriend's back." Resistance was futile. Ok, I didn't really resist. Well, um, not much...<br>
Our house was now a mouseless house. Sometimes people speak of a God-shaped hole in their religious lives (at least according to a religious scholar whose book I've been re-reading). For me, there was a mouse-shaped void. A month later, while browsing a pet shop, I found that resistance really was futile. I returned home with two young mice, one dun and one a lovely cream color. In tribute to the Beatles, the dun became Mary Jane (from a lesser-known song) and the smaller cream Penny Lane, and then just MJ and Penny.<Br><Br>
<b>"Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes..."</b> (<em>Paul McCartney</em>)<br><br>
MJ, at first only slightly larger than Penny, grew rather quickly at what I assumed to be a fairly normal pace, while Penny, although she exhibited a healthy appetite and normal energy level, stayed rather - and I think abnormally - small. Some growth was evident, coinciding with a darkening of her fur to dun, yet note the description I used in reference to her growth - "some." Soon MJ nearly dwarfed Penny. (Please know that there was no rivalry between the two: They ate together, slept together, groomed each other. Therefore, MJ was not keeping Penny from the food dish and was thus not depriving her of the food necessary to sustain growth.)<br>
Yet Penny's inherent smallness only served to up her cuteness quotient. And where MJ was shy, avoiding any human contact by scampering back into the small box in which she and Penny had created their sleeping nest, the tiny Penny enjoyed being handled, enjoyed her excursions outside the cage and around the house, esp. if perched atop my shoulder or when protected in the enclave of my cupped hands that I held beside my chest, the murmur of my heartbeat evident.<br><br>
<b>"Eleanor Rigby died... and was buried along with her name..."</b>(<em>McCartney & Lennon</em>)<br>
Late last afternoon, Penny seemed dazed, her movements abnormally sluggish. I offered her my hand; she crawled into my palm and received her usual ride outside of her cage. She didn't peek under my sleeve or scale my sweater to find her shoulder perch but sat complacently in my hand. I assumed she was sleepy. My mother knew better, knew that she wasn't well. I insisted that she just seemed sleepy. My mother gently scooped Penny from my palm, and the little mouse yielded, her body weak (which I, of course, did not then see as weakness but simply as a typical manifestation of general sleepiness); Penny was returned to her cage.<br>
Not long afterward, I was once again holding Penny, whom I still believed to be sleepier than usual - nothing more. Feeling somewhat sleepy myself, I lay on my bed, only my feet covered, with Penny nestled in the crook of my arm. Together we dozed for perhaps 10 or 15 minutes. (Bliss.) And then I arose - my mother had already asked me three times to help her get ready for a dinner date - and put Penny Lane back into her cage. I walked away.<br>
And the next morning, 5 minutes after waking up, still separating the most recent dreams from reality, I saw the tiny body, still warm yet beginning to stiffen, the tips of the hands and hand-like feet already darkening. But the eyes had remained open, retaining their recent life-luster. It lay on its side, not in the small box where Penny had always slept but in front of the cage door, as if Penny, before collapsing into the death pose and then death, had been waiting for the door to be pulled open, for the offering of the familiar human hand.<br>
I watched a merciful disappearance of life - of character and of the known that I had been so fond of. The tiny body began to take on rigor mortis and the warmth of recent life succumbed to the room temperature of not-so-recent life; the down of fur lost the familiar gloss sustained simply by being alive and the familiar sleekness sustained by Penny's constant grooming gave way to an unfamiliar roughness; the eyes' false life-luster faded; and that tiny body seemed to flatten, to shrink, creating concave shallows of skin where once that skin had been pulled taut over chubby roundness.<br>It had become a near-miraculous disappearing act of the living Penny. And there was relief. This small, slightly curled bit of softness was just that, nothing more. I buried that bit of softness, wrapped in a paper towel, and planted a flower bulb over it in memoriam of the Penny Lane who had been as alive, or perhaps as full of life, as is possibly attainable.<br><br>
<em>End</em><br><br><br>
A brief plea: Please do not regale me with questions of what kind of bedding I used or what the temperature of my house had been, etc. I already had researched mouse care extensively before obtaining the mouse about whom I wrote and her companion. My intention in composing the above rather lengthy description of a pet mouse and my coping with her death was not only that the description serve as a kind of a catharsis for me, which would ostensibly be read (or, err, partially read) by like-minded, and therefore understanding, people, but also that it serve as a possible comfort to anyone visiting the site who has experienced the recent loss of a pet (or, as I prefer to say, family member). Regarding the latter intention, remember that any pet who was loved, or well on its way to being loved, during its life is not gone when it dies, as I had always thought before. The hippocampus of the brain is a remarkable place, the part of the brain responsible for memory, the part of you that continues your pet's existence.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-06-2005, 11:01 AM
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So sorry for your loss. my prayers are with Penny.

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"Heaven goes by favour. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in."


Proud mom to Halle (dog), Sugar (cat), Tiffany (beta fish), Mango (molly fish), and Macy, Paris, Tessa, & Ruthie (mice).
RIP Kiska... the greatest...
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-10-2005, 07:09 PM
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This is for you MoonTiger.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-23-2005, 12:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much




I was so distressed that day, I lost all sense of time in translating emotions and thoughts into that stream of consciousness message (where, er, html coding doesn't work!) and missed a dinner date intended to cheer me up.

But the catharsis I felt afterward and, more so, the 2 simple, wonderful replies were worth more than 100 dinner dates in, well, the finest restaurants in Paris. (Make that Florence, actually, as the reputation of the Parisians' downright rudeness precedes them - unless said Parisians are the helpful nuns pointing 2 lost girls in the direction of the Louvre).


Again, thank you so much!
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-23-2005, 12:55 PM
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We've all been there ourselves. Are you feeling better now? It takes time, I know, but I really want to hear that you aren't as distressed as you were when you posted. You are a very good writer, and your post really touched my heart. I would say I was quite speechless after reading it. Keep us updated on how you are doing.

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