Hammy Heartbreak

Rough week this week. Our beloved Hammy the diabetic hamster went on to the big exercise wheel in the sky.


And I had one devastated little boy on my hands which in turn devastated me. Holding Hammy’s fading little furry body in his hands Logan sobbed, “This is the worst day of my life!”


I don’t know whose heart ached more – his for Hammy or mine for my son.


The day Logan’s cousin gave him a hamster for his 8th birthday only nine months ago (without checking with Mommy or Daddy first, mind you), it was love at first sight. How could we say no to a child who has so desperately wanted a fuzzy little kitten from the moment he said, “Meow-Meow kitty” at a year old – who now recognized this fuzzy little dwarf hamster as its surrogate?


Oh, and how he loved Hammy. Every morning he would collect her from her cage, rubbing his cheek along her calico fur proclaiming, “I just can’t resist her! She’s so cute and soft!”


He even created her own special jingle. So many times I’d hear him sing, “Hammy is the cutest, cutest, littlest, littlest, sweetest, sweetest, prettiest, prettiest Hammy!”


He diligently cleaned her cage, he was her fierce protector from overzealous young visitors, and every night he and I made sure she had fresh food and water before he’d call out to her cage on his dresser, “Night, night Hammy. I love you.”


So, when I noticed Tuesday morning that Hammy seemed more sluggish than usual, a creeping dread ran through me. The same dread I had some weeks ago when I realized we had an unwell hamster – diabetes, common in dwarf hamsters. I thought we had held off the inevitable with a change in diet and care. But that morning I knew – this was the day my son’s heart would be broken.


Later, when I realized the end was near, I called him and his sister in to break the news and say good-bye.


It was excruciating to witness his devastation and it took everything in me to hold it together to provide him a measure of strength and comfort in his time of raw despair. One of my toughest motherhood experiences to date.


Later, after many tears and a giant Slurpee to ease the heartache, we laid Hammy to rest in my flower wagon in front of Logan’s bedroom window – where he could always see flowers blooming in her memory. Then we put his favorite picture of him holding Hammy in a frame where her cage used to be on her dresser.


The hurt is still fresh, the loss still raw, and the sadness lingers like a wet blanket of fog. And that’s just Mommy aching for her son’s first lost love and the tears he still cries.


Will there be another hamster? My heart can’t take it. It looks like a cat will finally be in our future because despite me being allergic – at least I know it should live a good dozen years before I have to deal with it going to the big cat nip patch in the sky.


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