December 4, 2005: Goodbye Mr. Humphries

Today was a horribly sad day. When we returned home from church early this afternoon Dominica discovered that Mr. Humphries, our beloved hamster, had passed away. I had moved him into the dining room last night before we went to bed so that he would be warmer than he was in the office and so that it would be easier for us to check on him. When we had left for church he was still breathing but his breathing had become really shallow. He hadn’t moved since around 10:00 last night. I was afraid when I had carried him from the office into the dining room and he didn’t stir at all that he had slipped into a coma and I am pretty sure that he had. The good thing is that he slipped away in his sleep. He spent almost the last twenty four hours sleeping comfortably, as far as we could tell, and didn’t appear to be in any pain. We had been really hoping that he was going to recover but we knew that there wasn’t very much chance of that. Dad, at lunch, said that he thought that Mr. Humphries may have had a stroke while Dominica and I were vacationing in Florida but that he had recovered well enough that we could barely tell a difference in him other than the fact that he had stopped using his wheel almost completely.

We have had Mr. Humphries since September 17, 2003. When went to PetsMart in Greece. The thing that really made him stand out from the other hamsters that they had there was that he decided to pick us out. He climbed up onto a half tube and came up to see us when all of the other hamsters there were afraid of us. We couldn’t resist such a sweet and cute butterscotch and vanilla hamster. We took him home and totally fell in love with him and, after not too long, he fell in love with us too. Until the day he died he never bit a single person with the unfair exception of Katy Case who put her finger up to his mouth right after eating and without washing her hands so that he had no idea that she was a person and not food. He was the best hamster that I have ever heard of anyone having. He never tried to escape the entire time that we had him. A few times he got loose but only because we left his cage open by mistake. Actually I only ever did it once in all of the time that we had him, I think. Twice at most. That one time he ripped up the carpeting in front of our bedroom door during the night trying to get to us because he knew that we were in there. It was so sad that it really affected me. I was so shocked that he was trying so hard to get to me. Hamsters are always trying to get away. Not get to you. It was really touching.

Dominica and I spent a long time this afternoon crying and remembering our hamster. We have so many fond memories of him. He has been such an important part of our family. We are incredibly sad. He has been an integral part of our lives since before we were married. It is just really hard to believe that he is gone. But he went in his sleep and didn’t suffer and there isn’t much more than that that we could have asked for. We know that he was happy being our hamster and really loved us and he knew that we really loved him. He definitely isn’t in pain now. Now we just have to learn to deal with that empty place in our home and in our hearts.

I always have a really hard time dealing with pets dying. I didn’t realize this until today but Mr. Humphries was Dominica’s first ever pet, other than fish, to die. She has never had to deal with losing an animal like that so she is taking it really hard.

We put Mr. Humphries into a plastic bag to keep animals from trying to get to him, put that into a bag that Dominica had knit (it was originally going to be a purse but she hadn’t finished it – she had always wanted to knit him a little vest but she was afraid that he would try to eat it so she never did but at least now he will be buried in something that she knit) and we placed the knit pouch into a tin container that she had been keeping. We wrote an epitaph and placed it into the tin with him so that if anyone ever finds him they will know that he was a very special friend to someone and not just a rodent that died in a field. I plan to seal the tin with was and we are going to bury him out on the farm near the other two hamsters who died and were buried there in the 1980’s – Spunky (my first hamster) and Spinky. We put his name and our names into the box so that, if someone ever does find him, that they could potentially look him up online since the names in a search could lead them back to SGL and this information.

One of the great dangers of maintaining a journal, such as this, is that its pages are replete with memories of deal friends who are no longer with us. Memories that are not written as someone looking back on fond times but memories of events as they happened – with friends still near and dear to us. All of us oblivious to the future.

This is the epitaph that we included in his burial box:

Here lies Wilberforce Clayborn Humphries Miller. Beloved family member and faithful companion. Your time with us was much too short, but your memory will be with us always. Mr. Humphries you will be missed until we meet again. Thank you for choosing us.

Butterscotch and Vanilla Syrian Hamster: June 2003 – December 4, 2005

Child and Pet of Scott Alan and Dominica Anne Miller

I did a quick search for him online to see if he was easy to find. The third thing to come up from seaching for ‘Mr. Humphries hamster’ was the video of Dominica and Mr. Humphries our hamster that I took just two weeks ago. It is only sixteen seconds long because the batteries in the camera died and we didn’t have any more. This is the last time that Dominica played with him and one of the last days that he was really feeling good. We are so blessed that that video was taken then. It is one of our best memories of him. It really shows how active he was when hanging out with us. We are really going to cherish that memory.

We went to Walmart this afternoon in an attempt to take our minds off of our baby. I cleaned up all of his cage and stuff that was left so that we wouldn’t have to deal with it later. Fortunately we have friends who just got hamsters so that we know someone who will be able to put his stuff to good use. I feel really sad giving it away because of all of the memories connected with it but I know that it will just be painful memories in a box of wasted hamster stuff if we don’t let another hamster use it. That wouldn’t be wise.

While we were at Walmart we picked up Empire Earth II because I wanted to play something in the hope that it would take my mind off of the hamster. We also ended up getting Bring It On because it is finally not very expensive and we also got the new Harry Connick Christmas CD/DVD (Dualdisk) album. On our way out of the store we ran into Heather Schaeffer and her dad. We talked for a few minutes. Heather is moving up to Avon now and is working up there.

Min sat in the office and did some knitting for Oreo while I tried playing EE2. That game is really hard. I don’t have the hang of it at all yet. The computer was whoppin’ on me hard, even on the easiest level. We did that for a little while and then decided to go into the living room and watch some television. Basically we are just trying to get through the day. I started moving books up to the office. I have a lot of spare desk space now and we are totally out of space down in the basement. We are thinking that we want some shelves in the office because it is going to be an office to some extent for quite some time. We would like it to serve as a guest bedroom once I don’t need it to be the main office in the house. But it will be a while before we start getting my basement office really put together. And eventually we hope that we will have to use the upstairs office as a nursery and then eventually a second bedroom. But that is a long way off and we definitely shouldn’t be making long term plans for that yet. The good thing is that if we were to get the basement finished that the house really would have a lot of space. It is a small house but if we utilize it all wisely we could have at least one child in the house without a problem. Having two would not be feasible without getting a bigger house.

Without the hamster we are able to turn down the temperature in the house significantly. We used to have the house at 66F-67F but towards the end we had to turn it up to 69F in an attempt to keep the baby comfortable. Now it is down to 65F and we will probably turn it down even more. No reason to pay for all of that natural gas. Especially considering how expensive it is this year. We also closed the office heater vent and are keeping the office door closed when we are not using the room. That is a whole chunk of the house that we no longer have to pay to heat. That will help a ton with the heating cost since that room is one of only two rooms in the entire house that has two exposed walls. We are thinking about putting up a curtain in the hallway by the kitchen in an attempt to keep the cold air from the front of the house from getting easily into the rest of the house. That part of the house does not need to be heated either and it is relatively exposed as well and costs us a bit unnecessarily. It will be kind of weird to have a curtain there but if we put something up that can easily be taken down I think that we can make it very cost effective and be able to take it down when people come to visit so that they don’t think that we are freaks. Of course, I just told the entire world that we are so maybe it doesn’t really matter.

Dominica put the finishing touches on her Christmas tree tonight. I had to go to Walmart the other day and get more garland because she didn’t have enough but she didn’t put it on until now. Now everything is done. Dad is coming over tomorrow morning to take our Christmas picture for our Christmas card. We are going to have the three of us, Dominica, Oreo and I, on the card. We had been trying to figure out how to get Mr. Humphries into the picture because we were determined not to leave him out but I guess that we don’t have to worry about that now. We are having breakfast with dad at 8:45 tomorrow morning and then dad and I are taking Dominica’s car over to Livonia so that she can get her new Nokian snow tires put onto the car. She is very relived that there was no significant amount of snow on the roads any day that she had to drive to work before she was able to get real snow tires. The Lord was really watching over us there.

Dad found mom’s Bible cover, it is a Thomas Kinkade one, and brought it to church this morning so that Dominica can use it to cover and protect her new TNIV study Bible that she bought last week.

I continued working on making archival copies of all of the SGL Podcasts tonight. The show is actually getting listened too decently often in its higher quality form on the Internet Archive. I don’t know who is checking it out but that is pretty cool. Too bad all of those people weren’t checking out the original feed on podOmatic or we would skyrocket to the top of the charts.

I didn’t feel like I was being very productive tonight and I always feel better when I have been productive so I decided to do some vacuuming and dishes. Dominica spent a lot of the evening on the telephone with her parents and her sister. It helped take her mind off of the hamster. I got a bit of cleaning done today and that will help a bit. There is always plenty of cleaning to be done around here.

Before going to bed I posted the Bible reading for the day and recorded a very sad SGL Podcast, Episode 32 for our little boy. Talking about him in the podcast was all that I could handle. I only managed to go for about one minute. If anyone wants to know what naked podcasting sounds like, listen to that. The past two years have been really hard for Dominica and I. Thank you everyone for all of the love and support.

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