It’s Actually a Sweet Post About Rats

Stephen’s rat died last week.  It was his first encounter with death, at least in his conscious memory, and the sag of his shoulders and sobs coming from deep in his chest were enough to break this momma’s heart.  As I held my boy, trying to will comfort into him, I knew I’d never loved him more than I had at that moment. 

And then Stephen’s little brother Joseph, empathetically weeping with his brother, offered to give Stephen his own much-loved rat, in hope of easing the pain.  And I hugged my generous boy close and knew I’d never loved him more than I had at that moment.

And then, a few minutes later, I watched from the warmth of the kitchen as Hubs pounded away at the ice with a shovel, digging a little rat-sized grave.  And I watched his strong arm around my Stephen’s shoulders, leaning down to our son’s level to hold a little ratty funeral in the frigid, pelting ice.  I knew I’d never loved that man more than I had at that moment.

And yes, I know there is a very odd irony that these precious life moments were brought about by rats–rats, of all things!–but isn’t that just the way of things sometime?  The messes mixed in with the joy, the heartache stirred up with the oddities.  Living life is a mixed bag, isn’t it?

54 thoughts on “It’s Actually a Sweet Post About Rats

  1. Nancy says:

    Pure love … you experienced only as a mother/wife can feel … thank you for sharing a beautiful story.
    Perhaps Santa can bring another rat for Stephen?

  2. Edi says:

    I like how your younger son was comforting his older brother and willing to give up his own little critter. At times like that – you can see how siblings do love one another.
    Sometimes our kids are always bugging each other, teasing/fighting that it drives everyone CRAZY. But then one gets hurt or sick or teased by someone other than the sibling – and they show their love…go to the defense of their sibling…bring books and toys to the sick sibling. Feel badly for each other.
    Hope your son is cheered…

  3. deborah says:

    Oh, RATS! That just stinks out loud. Poor baby. What a sweet young man, your son is. Cheer them up with Home Alone 3, I think it is. Dorothy, the pet rat is one of the stars of the show. Very cute.

  4. Coralie says:

    What a beautiful post. Especially considering how you felt about the rats, it’s clear you love your family thousands of times more than you ever hated the rats.

  5. kelli says:

    It’s tough sometimes.
    When K was in the 5th grade, someone gave us a well loved hamster. She immediately attached herself (emotionally, not literally) to K.
    Unfortunately awhile later K developed pneumonia, which transmitted to the hamster. There were vet visits, antibiotics and such for abit. Until the poor thing just up and choked to death on a seed.
    Nibbles is buried in our old front yard, covered in rocks, with a wee little cross to mark her place. And I thought nothing of missing a staff meeting to be there.

  6. Kelly @ Love Well says:

    Beautiful observation, Shannon.
    (And you’re quite sure no rat poison was involved in the untimely demise?)
    If you don’t own it already, maybe “Ratatouille” is an appropriate gift this Christmas.

  7. Melissa says:

    Last year, we buried a bearded dragon in the backyard and had a mini funeral. It was sweet and my husband and I smiled at how different our lives had become as we were standing there in the backyards in our bathrobes with a shovel and crying children.
    Six months later, they dug it up to see what it looked like. Gross.

  8. Jenni says:

    Oh shoot…that’s terrible! We’ve had so many experiences like yours; our back yard is pitted with graves.
    Wow, that sounds morbid. Anyway, many tender hugs to all of you. Your boys sound just too sweet.

  9. Jenn says:

    oh that’s sad! Do rats usually have that short a life span? Or was it an older rat when he got it?
    That was a very touching post. I hope Stephen feels better soon!

  10. pam says:

    We’ve experienced rodent death around here recently, too, but ours was still under warranty . . . no funeral.
    Yet, even rats and other rodents can be a catalyst for life lessons. Thanks for sharing yours, Shannon. Precious brother relationships certainly deserve a little spotlighting. You’re a great set of parents with precious children.

  11. momrn2 says:

    What a touching post. And yes… life truly is a mixed bag! Some moments seem so much more of a mix than others!!
    I’m so sorry your sons experienced their first “loss”… but very grateful that they had you, their mother, by their side to love them through it!!

  12. Jeni says:

    Oh, so sorry about the rat. I think we probably all have memories of losing that first pet. And what sweet men (big and little) God has blessed you with!

  13. TaderDoodles says:

    (Yeah, we’re not the only ones with rats!)…
    Our little Jolene still wants to dig up her hamster from over the summer, she doesn’t quite understand that it’s not there anymore.
    Heaven help me if one of our rats pass on. We’ve lots many a pet, a bunny, three hamsters, many many fish… I wish it got easier.

  14. Cathy says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Stephen’s little rat…was this Nellie the sneezer? Rats have a big personality housed in those cute little bodies.

  15. Tara says:

    Oops. I guess I don’t win any good Mommy awards. My son’s beta fish died yesterday. I asked him what he wanted to do with it. He said he wanted to feed it to the cats. And touch it. I let him do both.

  16. Shalee says:

    Oh, what a beautiful well-spring of love from a dead rat. No one said that God isn’t into oddities when it comes to teaching us some good things.
    Give Stephen a hug for me and one to his ever-so-loving brother. And I think Hubs deserves his favorite dessert for his heroics with the kids and you.

  17. amy a says:

    What a great post. You have a wonderful family. Who thought I’d be tearing up at a story about a dead rat that belonged to someone I’d never met!

  18. Frazzmom says:

    All three of my kids were hearbroken when our beloved pet rat, Eve, died a couple of years ago. As sad as it was at the time, it helped that they had experienced that grief process when their grandmother passed away last year. They were able to draw from that first experience with mourning to know that they would not always feel so sad and that the time would come when they could remember the happy times- even tho’ they still miss Grandma.

  19. Michelle says:

    It was a pet, regardless of what it may have been. I remembering our rat getting sick and having to have him put to sleep. Yes, I paid to have the rat put to sleep! I got so much grief from people for paying someone to do that.
    I agree with the comment above me, you’re a good momma.

  20. Michelle says:

    It was a pet, regardless of what it may have been. I remember our rat getting sick and having to have him put to sleep. Yes, I paid to have the rat put to sleep! I got so much grief from people for paying someone to do that.
    I agree with the comment above me, you’re a good momma.

  21. LeeAnnn says:

    Even rats are made by the Creator. Maybe to help us feel great love. So sorry for your son but so happy he is surrounded by a caring family.

  22. Sarah says:

    We had kind of the same experience with a beta fish. Except little sister said to big sister, “Don’t feel bad, dd#1. Maybe we can have Ling (the fish) for dinner.” Touching, very touching…

  23. jean says:

    My heart goes out to your son at this time of loss. I may not be a friend of the rat family, but I can appreciate how hard it is to have a pet die.

  24. Sarah says:

    Who knew the death of a rat could be so touching??? I love those tender, precious moments when one life touches another and it doesn’t matter what the initiating event was… the love it evokes is a thing of wonder. I can stil go to the grave of my childhood-long pet cat and re-live the moment when my poor father straightended from digging a cat-sized hole in the frozen ground (why do they have to die in the winter????) and I sobbed, “I’m sorry I didn’t have a pet mouse” to which we both laughed hysterically through our tears. A memory I will never forget and a tangible measure of my father’s love.

  25. mom2fur says:

    I’m sorry I’m here so late to offer condolences. I’ve had rats for pets, and I was sad when I lost them. They truly are sweet animals, and I’m so sorry for Stephen. And Joseph! OMgosh, are you ever blessed to have such a dear little soul for a son! I can sure see where it comes from–you and your husband are something else.
    This rattie-lover sends many hugs to your boys!

  26. chaotic joy says:

    Oh my. I skimmed over this post in my google reader because it had the word Rat in it. I just came back to it today and I am so glad I did. It was just so beautiful. Your family and their love for each other, is just so beautiful. I am sorry about the rat. 😦

  27. Angi says:

    Very sweet kids! If you are still in the market for a rat – I feel sure I can catch you one! Let me know! πŸ™‚
    Merry Christmas!

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