Yesterday at school, Katie saw a mouse in Housekeeping. Kellie’s father took out all the clothing from the dress-up box and at the bottom were two brand new baby mice. I found the mom behind the box, with a baby still attached.
I knelt to scoop her up but the children scared her with their screaming which sent her scurrying to safety.
Remarkably fast for one just having given birth, we eventually caught up with her and put her in a box to take outside to reunite her with her babies. When the lid was lifted off the box, the mother jumped out and ran away, flinging the baby to the ground (which killed her). I buried the baby and puzzled over
the other two.
Hoping mom would return, I wrapped the babies in a blanket and left them
underneath the porch, huddling in the rain. Their mom came back to eat the food I’d left, taking one baby and leaving the runt behind. By dinnertime it was clear she’d been abandoned, so I brought her home with me.
Scott and I went to the vet, bought her formula, and fed her with an eyedropper (I laughed about spending money to preserve her life when people pay money to kill them). I got up at 2 am to “nurse” her. We named her
“Squeak,” because she squeaks when she is hungry (and when I put her down).
This morning she woke up wet and cold. Her mother would have licked her
clean but I lay sound asleep, exhausted by my vigilance. In the end I could not
save her. Four days of eating every hour replenished her vitality. This morning
she somersaulted from my hand, landing on the carpet. Her acrobatics left her weakened. She wouldn’t eat and I was miserable with guilt. “If only I hadn’t let her fall.” How ironic, that her burgeoning strength led to her demise . . .
Nuzzling sweetly in the palm of my hand, Squeak went to sleep and never woke.I knew from days of watching her so carefully she wasn’t right, but I couldn’t believe she wasn’t going to make it. “Why did you have to die?” I wailed, the way I must have cried at eleven, for my mother. Or maybe I never
did, and all my tears for Squeak reminds me how the loves I’ve lost have broken my heart wide open, wider still than if I’d never known them . . .