The hedgehog who broke my heart….

Here it is — the post I’ve been putting off. Hank the Hedgehog has died.

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He lost interest in mealworms one day.

Yes, the guy who would do flying leaps into a pile of mealworms couldn’t be coaxed to have even a bite.

He must be bored of them.

Then he stopped eating his regular food, which he normally chomped with gusto.

He’ll make up for it in a couple of days.

He didn’t.

Mixing a variety of food, I gently pressed pieces against his mouth until… Yes! He chewed!

Then all the pieces crumbled onto his chest.

He must have a hedgehog cold or flu.

Running his bath, warm but not too warm, I placed him in the sink with the water still running. As usual. I turned away for a couple of seconds–

Hank!

The water was rising to his nose and he wasn’t even tilting his head up!

He usually climbs up the sides of the sink or decides to chill and float. This time he was standing motionless, not caring that he was about to drown.

I wrapped him in his microfibre towel, trying to hide my panic.

What’s going on?

He looked back at me.

No!

His eyes were flat.

No, no, no, no.

I gave him his coconut oil quill massage, waiting for his light to come back.

He stared, expressionless.

No, I can’t. He can’t.

Every evening I held him in his blanket burrito and willed my energy into him.

Each morning, filled with hope, I checked his food dish. Not a dent.

Then he stopped drinking.

I filled his water dish and held his head over it.

When he still didn’t drink, I put him down at his food station and placed his water dish under his chin.

He started to move his head… Yes! I knew you’d come back!

…and his chin slowly slid along the edge of the dish… then right off, and he was laying flat on his placemat.

No!

A jar lid was the most shallow makeshift water dish I could find.

He struggled, and managed to hold his head upright long enough to drink. He drank, and drank, and drank, and drank.

And I cried.

One morning, his eyes were clouded over and I administered lubricant eye drops.

He growled.

There you are! I knew you’d pull through!

Then he stopped growling.

Then he stopped drinking.

One morning he was cool to the touch.

I held him over a space heater until his body temperature warmed. I wrapped him in extra blankets.

Each morning I told him, “Not today.”

And he didn’t.

Then one afternoon he jumped to my mind and my eyes filled with tears.

That evening when I came home, he didn’t move.

Hank, you made me a better person.

I wish I’d let you have Doritos.

~~~~~~~~~

“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you….

To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.

To me you will be unique in all the world.

To you, I shall be unique in all the world.”

~ Le Petit Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

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