Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Sad Day at The Craig House

“I’m sorry.” I told my upset nineteen-year-old son standing at the edge of my desk. “Losing someone is never easy. Death is the ultimate price of loving.” Seeing the grief in my son’s eyes broke my heart. Seriously, I really did feel bad. However, there was no doubt about it, my son felt the blunt of this grief.

Probably because he was the one to discover the body curled up in the hammock. As far as we know, the passing was of natural causes and not a homicide. Although, I’ll admit, the cats were acting very suspicious.

Mr. Raton, God rest his soul, was not on our four cats’ favorite lists. Okay, I’ll admit it. He wasn’t on my fav’ list either. It was his bald tail. If he’d just had little fur on it, I think I could have gotten past my prejudices. I could have pretended he was a gerbil or a hamster. But my lack of affection for the dearly departed wasn’t important, I knew my son’s feelings were real.

“I’m really sorry.”

“He was the best nine dollars I ever spent,” he said. “Thank goodness I still have his brother.”

I had to bite my tongue not to remind him that his nine dollars was money he hadn’t asked to spend. He’d never gotten permission to bring home the two rats. Imagine my surprise when one day, a week or so after they’d been sneaked into my home, I went to toss the dirty socks he’d left in my living room into his bedroom (Hey, I always left them by his pillow so he’d learn a lesson-not that it worked, but it made me feel better) and saw the two pink-eyed creatures staring at me from the cage. I tossed the socks up in the air and screamed bloody murder. I was also tempted to leave his door open and let the kitties in for a visit. You know their paws were small enough to reach into that cage.

When he arrived home that day from school, I insisted he take them back. He called the pet store, but their no return policy stood strong. I insisted he find another home for them. Amazingly, much to my son’s shock, not one of his friend’s parents would welcome a couple of rats into their home. Duh!

I was forced to either cruelly insist he toss the creatures into our cat friendly neighborhood, or accept them into the family. Call me a sucker, but I accepted them. I’m not saying I loved them. Acceptance is a far cry from loving.

So that’s how Mr. Raton and his brother arrived at the Craig house and here’s the story of how he left.

“What do I do with the body?” my son asked, still standing at the edge of my desk.

I thought a minute. “My mom flushed my goldfish down the toilet.” (Hey, I wasn’t trying to be ugly, it was just the first thing that popped into my head.)

“You haven’t seen him lately, have you?” my son asked, his tone accusing.

“I didn’t know I had mandatory visitations.”

“He’s not so little anymore. Too many Cheetos, I guess.”

“You fed him Cheetos?”

“He loved them. He used to sit on my shoulder and eat them.”

I sigh. “Then I guess you’ll need to bury him.”

My son goes and finds his dad, I’m sure hoping his dad will show him more sympathy.

“Dad is going to help me bury it,” my son said when he returned.

“That’s good,” I said and glanced back at my computer, eager to get in my obligated ten pages of writing.

“Do you want to come say good bye?” he asked.

“No!” I know most of you won’t agree, but for some reason seeing a dead rat seemed freakier than seeing a live one.

His dad appeared in my study, a shovel in hand. “You ready?”

“What about a casket?” my son asked. Yup, he really asked that.

When neither hubby or I answered, son continued. “We can’t just put him in the dirt.”

I wanted to ask why not, but I refrained and found a box and offered it to my son.

“Mom, how would you like to be buried in a used Chinese takeout box that smelled like Kung Pao that was pulled out of the garbage?”

I didn’t answer. Hubby snickered.

“Besides,” Son says, “He won’t fit.”

“Can you just smash him a little bit?” his dad asked.

Son looked appalled and then he too snickered. I went in search of another box. The box my business cards came in is the perfect size for a rotund Cheeto-loving rat.

Mr. Raton was tucked away in his makeshift casket, lovingly wrapped in paper towels, resting beside a . . . a Cheeto (so I’m told, I still wouldn’t look at him) and son and hubby went in the backyard.

I, of course, excuse myself from attending the funeral, but I did watch from my French doors, accompanied by the four still suspicious-appearing cats, as my two men buried the rat and said their final good byes.

Afterwards, my son returned in my office. “I know you think I’m crazy, but I really did love that guy.”

I looked at my son. “I know you did.” I got up and hugged him really tight and I remembered when I was ten and being heart broke when my Iguana died. “I’m really sorry.”

And I guess the moral of this blog is . . . love really is blind. So here’s to you, Mr. Raton. May the afterlife bring you lots of Cheetos.

So that’s my sad day at the Craig house. What’s going on in everyone else’s life? Hey…what book are you reading? I’m about to make a run to Barnes & Noble, so does anyone have any recommendations?

Crime Scene Christie


Linda C said...

What a great story. Alittle sad and funny at the same time. Each time one of our cats has died (we've had 6 in 27 years) we always bury them with one of their toys. My husband gets more upset in their passing than I do. He's such a softie when it comes to animals and kids.

Just finished reading Lois Greiman's "One Hot Mess". Now reading Rhonda Pollero's "Fat Chance". After I've got Lucy Monroe's "Deal with This". Waiting with baited breath for your next book


Christie Craig said...

Hi Linda,

You know, I have morned big time for my furry friends. And while I'll admit I wasn't attached the rat, I did see that same pain in my son's eyes.

Those books sound good. I just bought Marked the first in the series A House of Night. It's young adult. Has anyone ever read these?


Anonymous said...

Hi Christie!
I love the irony over your son's rat and your iguana. Don't reptiles carry more diseases?

But seriously, sorry about your son's loss. Losing a pet, rodent or otherwise, is never easy.

It's always a pleasure to read your posts!


Edie Ramer said...

Christie, you're such a good storyteller. We've buried two dogs and its always been a sad occasion.

I read two great books lately: What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton.

Keri Ford said...

Aw, sad and sweet story. and I think I would have been like you. Sorry for my son's loss. I'd have never gotten over the naked tail *shudder*

All I've read this week is my own stuff...can't find it in B&N so that's not much help to you.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Jenn!

More diseases? You're probably right. And in my son's defense, that lizard didn't have fur on his tail either.

Ahh, but what can I say, you can lead a heart to water, but you can't make it drown. I just never fell in love in with that rat.

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


Ohhh, I can't wait to read Susan's book. I'm a big fan of hers.

Thanks so much for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


Yep, the bald tail issue was big! Hey . . . you keep working and I'll betcha that soon your work will be on the Barnes & Noble.


Kristi said...

Sorry about your sons pet, it's never easy even if it's a rat.

As for reading recs, I'm reading Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. The third in the Outlander series and loving it and I don't even like historical fiction much.

Gemma Halliday said...

Awwww. Your poor boy. :( (And, poor you having to live with rats!)

We had a hamster funeral at our house this week, so I sympathize. We did the same "um, what do we bury it in?" thing. Wish I'd thought of a take-out box...
My son wants to order a plaque to put up as a headstone. I think we may have our own pet cemetery soon.


Donna Marie Rogers said...

How can you make me LOL then wipe away tears all within 20 seconds? I feel for your soon, too. I remember coming home from a weekend at a friend's house to discover one of my gerbils missing. Romeo & Juliet were in a locked cage, and when I got home the cage was still locked only Romeo was missing and my cat, I remember, looked quite smug. LOL Actually, I didn't know for sure it was Romeo missing until Juliet gave birth a few days later and confirmed. *G*

Hey, I heard There's Only Been You by Donna Marie Rogers was pretty good. LOL Seriously, I haven't read much lately, but I have Lara Adrian's Veil of Midnight, Karin Tabke's Master of Surrender & Master of Torment, Helen Scott Taylor's The Magic Knot, and a couple books from an author I can't wait to read cause she's just so darn funny. ;-)

Bookmobiler said...

"here’s to you, Mr. Raton"

Let me guess, the brother is Mr. Ratoff.

I think I might have suggested a Cheetos box for the casket.

And are the cats into digging?

I'm currently reading High City by Cecelia Holland.
She writes well written and researched historical novels. If you can find it at your local library read Until the Sun Falls.

Phyllis Bourne said...

Chinese take-out box? I'm no rat fan, but for some reason it makes me feel better that you upgraded to a biz card box.

Christie Craig said...


You know what you said reminds me that it doesn't matter what kind of a book it is, if it's well written and if you fall in love with the characters that's all that matters.

Thanks for stopping in.


LuAnn said...

Wow! What a story.
My stepson brought home a couple rats once. You have lots more patience that I do. It was a matter of they go or I go and I'm still here. Like yours, no one wanted these hideous creatures, so they went out along the irrigation bank to either fend for themselves or get caught by a hawk.

Christie Craig said...


So sorry about the gerbil!

Yup, the whole casket thing is a stumper.

We have the cemetery going too. No plaques, just special large stones or a tree.

Give you son a hug for me.


Christie Craig said...


We had gerbils growing up, too. And we thought we had two Romeos, as well. That's a blog, too!

Hey...I have no doubt that that Donna chick is a fabulous writer. I'm going to pick her up soon!!!

Maybe we could get her to come and guest blog over at Killer Fiction? Hmmm?

And the The Magic Knot, by Helen is fabulous. I judged that in a contest years ago. Helen is a talented gal.


Christie Craig said...


Mr. Ratoff? Only you would come up with that! LOL.

No, the cats are indoor, with a few exceptions of the great escape attempts. Of course, they always come back and beg to get back inside. It's a wild world out there.

Those books sound intriguing.

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...

Hi PBW!!!

It's so great see you mug here! I so enjoyed meeting you at the PASIC conference. You are one funny lady.

And yes, I think the upgrade was a good choice.

Thanks so much for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


LOL. I could have used you back three years ago when I was trying to decide to let them stay or let them go!!!

Ahh, but darn it, I know my son is speaking the truth about loving those little guys. This said, I warned him that the next rat that enters the Craig house will become kitty food.


Terry S said...

Quite a bittersweet blog today. All I can say is at least his beloved Mr. Rat died peacefully in his sleep. It is so much worse to have to make the decision it would be more humane to euthanize a pet. My condolences to your son on his very real grief.

I'm in the middle of two books. "Running Hot" by Jayne Ann Krentz and "Wild and Hexy" by Vicki Lewis Thompson. Hmmm, must be three name authors week.

Christie Craig said...


You are so right. Making that choice is heartbreaking.

Oh . . . after your three name comment, I'm considering a middle name, now!

Christie Darlene Craig, doesn't sound right. Of course, my grandma never accepted my middle name and she called me, Christie Dell. Grandma's reasoning was simply. She found out that my dad's old girlfriend was Darlene. LOL.

Thanks so much for popping in!!!


♥ Dawn said...

I always wanted a giant rat, like the R.O.U.S. in The Princess Bride. Just something I could hug, take for a walk, put a little rat-coat on- you know, that kind of thing. Poor Raton. I'll eat this bag of cheetos in your memory, buddy.

Christie Craig said...


I'm positive Mr. Raton will love you for it. LOL.

While I've never wanted a rat, I sort of did fall for the mouse in the movie Green Mile.

Thanks so much for stopping in.


Delia DeLeest said...

Please please please tell me that in the picture that rat is NOT posed on the toilet seat!

My kids once had a funeral for a pet finch and they used their Tonka Lift and Rescue helicopter to airlift it to the cemetery in the backyard.

**going off to sanitize my toilet seats now

Christie Craig said...


Sorry girl. But you have to understand, my son wanted pictures and if he put them on the toliet, (son's bathroom, I assure you and not my bathroom) they wouldn't jump off. I felt semi safe being close enough to snap a few shots.

Thanks so much for stopping by.


Estella said...

Just finished Wicked Game by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush. Up next is Fireside by Susan Wiggs.

Gillian Layne said...

Honest to God, we actually have two rats in the freezer right now, awaiting burial. Nugget and Bramble. They were grumpy sisters who died within two weeks of each other when the ground was frozen solid--and my girls were mildly hysterical, as they want to bury them together at my parent's farm. "Where animals are happy."

Yup, it's been a zoo around my house for years now. And I did like those things--they were so funny to watch. And caused much less trouble than our dog.

Give your son a hug from me. :)

Christie Craig said...


I read something about Lisa Jackson and her sister's book and it sounds really good. I might pick that one up.

Thanks for stopping in.


Christie Craig said...


Okay...I'm laughing my butt off here! You have two rats in the freezer? Can you imagine what someone would think if they went through your freezer? They'd never have dinner at your house again. LOL!!!

But I have to say that my son totally loved those rats. He swore they were smarter than our rabbit, too.

Thanks for the laugh girl. And yes, give your girls a hug. I'm really sorry they lost their pets.


Terri Osburn said...

Sorry, I'm late today! Such a sad but sweet story. Makes me think of what we'll do when the hamster and/or parakeet go to the big pet store in the sky. Living in a second floor apartment doesn't exactly present an abundance of burial plots. Hmmmm...

And I don't want to think of how the kiddo will react.

I finished DD&D2 last Friday. Best one so far. I cried for Jason. Dang you. Now I'm reading Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas. Highly recommend it!

Christie Craig said...


The big pet store in the sky? I love it!!!

And I guess if someone caught you out in the middle of the night burying something in the appartment complex they might get suspicious, huh? LOL.

I'm going to pick up Lisa's book. You're the second person who recommended it to me.


Laurel Bradley said...

I can relate to your story from your son's point of view and yours. At least he didn't ask to freeze the rat until his brother died as I did with my gerbils when I was young. Now I only freeze dead fish. There's a reason for that though. They are much easier to draw when dead. I'm a lousy fish photographer. I know...
As my second son (now twenty) says, "Don't judge me." I think it's a movie quote, but we don't watch the same kind of movies, so I'm not certain.

Have a happier day tomorrow.

Laurel Bradley
A Wish in Time
Creme Brulee Upset

Christie Craig said...


LOL! Okay...you're the second person who talked about freezing rats/gerbils. I don't know, I think I'd totally freak every time I when to get super out of the freezer.

Thanks so much for stopping by.


EmilyBryan said...

Too funny, as usual, Christie!

I can so relate. When my kids were little, they had a gerbil I thought would NEVER die!

When JimBob (yes, he was a southern gerbil!) went mysteriously missing one day, the cat really was the culprit. And no, I did not "accidentally" leave his cage door open. He made a break for it himself! Or maybe Wilhelmina Whiskers helped him open the cage . . .

Neither of them gave up any information when we found him--still alive--in the little room where Willie's litter box lived. JimBob lived on, but he never escaped his cage again, the sadder but wiser gerbil . . .

Christie Craig said...


A southern Gerbil? I love it. Did he squeak with a drawl?

I'm telling you those, cats are pretend to be innocent, but don't you believe it. LOL.

Thanks for popping in.


Patty Henderson said...

I so love your writing!

Christie Craig said...

Ahh, Patty,

You do my heart good.



RM Kahn said...

Sorry to hear about Mr. Raton. It is hard to lose any creature. My son always asks for a hamster or a gecko, but with 3 avid hunting cats, I have to say no. It's bad enough to have to clean up the rodents and lizard and birds that those cats bring in.

Good news here, I'm in the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest!

Bad news... I threw my back out and spent all last week flat... no writing at all. And I was just getting back into the groove too.

Oh well this too shall pass.

Christie Craig said...

RM Kahm,

Hot Damn on making the finals girl. I'll be cheering you on.

Yikes on the back. Rest, but do a lot of walking. That will probably help.

You know I thought my four cats would go crazy with the rabbit. But they just look at as if trying to figure out how that feline go such strange ears.

Thanks for stopping in.


Alexis said...

I lived at home with my brother (who resembles you son) for 25 years. He brought a parade of (I'll call them) disposable pets into our house (gerbils, mice, etc.). I spent much of that 25 years keeping our cat (who lived to 21) away from his "pets." I was never that sad to see them go...I know...very cold. But, that's the job of the older sister.

I'm reading the Spellman books by Lisa Lutz. They are all really funny!

Christie Craig said...


Okay "disposable pets" that is cold, but I'll admit I chuckled. And hey, you really weren't cold. Cold would have been if you trained the cat to dispose of the disposable pets.

Too funny.

Thanks for stopping in.


Diana said...

Hi Christie!

Reading about your real life is as entertaining as your books. :o)

Thanks for sharing the good, bad & ratty moments of life in the Craig household.
(Sorry Mr. Raton I just couldn’t resist.)

Actually my folks have had SEVERAL pets pass lately; birds, newts, hamsters, dogs and cats. What freaks me out is since our weather is cold and the ground is hard they are ‘storing’ them in Ziploc bags in the chest freezer. The place looks like a Mammal Morgue! I don’t know whether to suggest cremation for fear they’ll have a funeral pyre in their backyard.

I’m seriously thinking of becoming a vegetarian!

Impatiently Waiting for Your Next Book,