At first, I was the only one who had seen the mouse. A flash of golden fawn, confusing. The first time was under the sink by the garbage can, followed by twice in my son’s room, on and around the old, crappy, black futon with built in storage. We have had many a mouse inside, but this was the first time I had seen one of this color. My son was disturbed, and I was thinking more about the mouse going away than about the wonder of it arriving.
“Fancy Mouse” is the name of the breed, domestic pets which come in an array of colors such as champagne, chocolate, lilac, cinnamon, and fawn. The color seems to be what distinguishes them from the household pest variety, the feral ones in dull gray and brown. I do not know what would happen, should someone catch a rough and ashen household variety and make it a pet, but our golden mouse was a pet and became ours for a couple of days.
On Saturday afternoon, I watched the mouse jump from the kitchen counter into one of the gas stove burners. I yelled for my S.O. to come (he is super handy in these situations). I was not enamored yet, I wanted to just make sure it was gone. Once C. had seen the mouse, who popped its head up, I would describe his words as cooing. “Oh, that’s a beautiful animal. What a beautiful baby”. Within a couple of hours, he had finessed it into a cereal box. He fashioned a temporary container from a large glass globe from a lamp fixture, on top of a small bicycle tire to hold it steady, covered with an old pot lid which had a hole where the handle used to be. This was our mouse cage.
I searched for information about this situation. It does not seem to come up often, finding a stray pet mouse in your home. What little I found suggested that Fancy Mice do not live long in the wild. Among wild mice in general, I also learned, the great many are destined to die rather quickly. It is rare to survive long enough to reproduce. In my search for possible spiritual and symbolic meaning, mice represent paying attention to details. They represent change coming, or how small we all really are. In the greater system, a mouse sacrifices for its size. A lifetime spent being crushed by circumstances, living often to be food for larger animals. Humbling, all in all.
By the next day I had thought to call an animal rescue, once I saw posts of mice available at one nearby. My son did not want a mouse, even a caged one, and I worried about us losing it, or my dog catching it (our dog killed a mockingbird last summer, but that is a whole other blog post. It was self-defense). The shelter agreed to accept our mouse, of unknown gender at that point. In the meantime, C. and I figured out how to clean the lamp fixture cage. He caught the mouse with a paper towel roll to transport it to a box, and back again. It had kept tipping over the water, so I found a medicine dropper to offer some. Tiny feet gripped it and the adorable little mouth dribbled, just like a baby, suckling on its mother. I loved her. After transporting her to a plastic carrying case, I could see she was a girl.
I dropped off my golden girl mouse at the shelter on Tuesday, two days before the seventh anniversary of the death of my beautiful five-year-old daughter, Susanna. Susanna’s resting place, glorious Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, was a block away so I walked through toward the subway. The weather, the sky, the fiercely green grass, and spring half blooms were unspeakably pretty. I felt guilty for not feeling good, but I was so sad. I was devastated, I realized, because I was able to save the mouse, together with C., the way we could not save Susanna. I am always sad that I could not save Susanna. I live with this sadness, a part of me now, and it presents itself in different ways and in different strengths, as time goes on. I am grateful that Susanna’s father and I could share in this kind act. We provided a better life for a living being. This feels good. It does not matter how small someone is, or what species, when there is an opportunity to be kind.
I wonder, as I sometimes do, what Susanna would think about what happened. From her perspective, where she is, discarnate, I wonder if she has empathized with a life small and short and found meaning as I did. Susanna loved the word fancy, and anything golden. She would certainly make a connection to Cinderella, and any other princess who may have spoken to mice. Maybe Susanna orchestrated the visit, I do not know how these things work. I do know that there is much more to the universe than what we see here. Beyond a life that may be short or small, there is eternity. Not only monumental love, but eternity. I picture Susanna, dancing and singing, from golden mountain tops. I love you, Susanna. Save me a spot.