Rest in peace, Burt

By Tin Bartolome

Posted at Jan 09 2015 05:11 AM | Updated as of Jan 09 2015 01:11 PM

When asked about plans of having a family of her own, my daughter simply said, “Makuntento ka sa daga”. Our latest “daga”, a Teddy Bear hamster named Burt suddenly needed professional help as his tongue was swollen and he could not seem to open his eyes. All he could do was sip water from his bottle and run around his cage, bumping his head on its walls.

Before Burt were Snowball, Snowbell, Snowdrop, Mocha and Frap, Bubba and Ganoosh (Roborovskis). My daughter is usually frugal, but not when she needs stuff for her pets. They had cages with tubes, exercise wheels, fragrant baths, scented wood shavings and treats. They even had transparent balls so they can freely roam the house.

Snowball, whom we fondly called Muymuy, was to me, the most lovable. He passed away sometime in 2010, during one of the hottest summers we’ve experienced. I watched in horror as my daughter kept an eye on him as he lay on his fragrant wood shavings, having seizures every five minutes or so. Little tears flowed down her cheeks as she watched him twitch. The tears she shed may have been tiny, but I know that the hurt that caused them to flow was huge. She was losing a loved one! It took months before she recovered from her grief and bought hamsters again.

This weekend, she told us that her pet Burt’s face was swollen and that his eyes were closed shut. He could not eat and would only sip water occasionally. We brought him to the veterinary clinic nearby but were referred to one farther from our house, a clinic that treated “exotic” animals as well. The clinic happened to have many patients that morning, all of them dogs. The woman at the front desk seemed so bored with her job. I had to ask her whether the branch nearest to where we were had a vet for exotic animals. I said the animal we brought in seems to be an emergency case as the poor thing could no longer hold its head up. That was the only time she asked one of the other vets to take a look at our dear Burt. After three hours, Burt was finally attended to.

I did not want to say anything nasty, so I waited in the car. Then I began to ask myself what the matter was. I realized that though I was worried about my daughter’s pet, I was worried more about her shedding those tiny tears once more. I worried about my daughter grieving over another pet! I have taken her statement seriously: nakuntento na nga sa daga!

After hours of intensive care, medicated water and feeding with a tiny syringe, Burt succumbed to what seems like a massive infection. My daughter periodically took him in her hands to feed him and watched over him through the night. She said at 3:00 am, she noticed that he hardly responded when she put the syringe to his mouth. I did not see those tiny tears on her face as she jumped into our bed, face down and stayed that way for quite a while. She said she knew he was about to go. I did not know what to say, so I asked if she needed me to be with her as my husband and I were on our way out for a morning walk. She said she’s fine and gave us permission to leave.

Twenty minutes into our walk, I received a text message from her saying Burt was gone. His passing had affected me in some way, especially because I knew how much my daughter loved her pets. We drove back home to pick her up so that she could lay him to rest near the others before him. As she set the lighted incense sticks on the ground, she said, “Good night, crazy mouse!” and turned away.

It does not really matter who or what her loved ones are. In the end, it’s how I come to love whatever she loves, to feel the pain of loss as if it were mine—in the same way I am able to enjoy whatever makes her happy!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.