Bingham died earlier today. I cried in the middle of the sidewalk. I wasn't sure what to do, say. I wished I had more time to spend with her before I left. That last week I was home we rolled up and napped in the bedroom for a couple of hours, Huxley running around refusing to lay still. I remember bringing her home in that little blue cage with the yellow wheel. Noisy mustard swirls as she ran in circles throughout the night. I felt better knowing she was around. I would get up to check on her throughout the night. I was afraid to pick her up a lot, I wasn't sure what rats liked. She liked to be rubbed behind her ears and hide in my cleavage. Running, climbing, burrowing between my skin and shirt. I would pull my head in to witness her joy.
Before Bingham I didn't know that rats gave kisses. Perhaps she did it to groom or for the lingering taste of lunch but her little tongue would just have at ears, fingers, cheeks. She was so sweet, I was at school a lot during the day. Everything that I read said that rats like to live in pairs, I did not want her to be lonely. So I got Huxley. They fought; Bingham being mean to Huxley, Huxley being mean to Bingham. They grew to be good cage mates, guarding each other from poking dog snouts. When Bingham got sick and swollen unable to move to the food, I witnessed Huxley fetching her some food. Huxley would also help to keep her clean when she was sick.
I remember the first time she was sick. Her legs had swollen, her eyes with red tears. I cried, speeding us to the animal hospital in North Kansas City. I paid them nearly $100 to see her and to give us anti-swelling medication. This would not be the first time I had to do this. Although I formed a relationship with my local vet so I wouldn't have to do any last minute hospital visits. At one point I paid to have the vet to perform a biopsy on a growth she had under her chin and to drain her swelling. The biopsy came back ok, the doctor said that she had an infection deep in her bones. We kept watch over her, the swelling would go down with medication, come back a few months later, go down with medication, so on and so forth. Even when sick she was always ready to curl up in a pants leg, give you some kisses, eat some yogurt treats. Bingham was a chubby little rat.
The last full week I was home, I was bathing the rats and discovered a swelling on Bingham's belly that her fur had hid. Sending pics to the doc he said that we needed to operate, it was a tumor. The price was more than I could afford, it would cost about the same as for a cat or small dog. "They are considered exotic." There are only two doctors in the area who could operate. "It will probably come back in less than a month." I wanted to see what we could work out. "You can't keep doing this, you have to let her go." She died in her sleep, sometime after Billy gave them breakfast.
The funeral was tonight as I sat sleepily in the backseat from our Long Beach trip. I only wished that I could be back home in Kansas City, saying goodbye to Bingham. Instead of a Viking funeral Billy (with Dee Jay's help) opted for a more Tibetan funeral pyre, eventually needing to scatter ashes and burying the rest. I appreciate the care that went into this.
Writing helps me to feel better but I will still cry tonight. She was one of the most darling pets and a joy to have around. I love you, Bingham Kingsley. Goodbye.