It was the day before yesterday when I noticed it at first. Artemis wouldn't eat anything, be it coconut or, her favorite, a "bananas chip." She barely climbed up my arm, and wouldn't run on the wheel.
Yesterday morning, red gunk built up around her nose, and she wouldn't move much. Cami and I had to force feed her some antibacterial meds, and cream cheese to make sure she didn't starve. Things seemed to have gotten better, too. By the time we went to bed, Artemis was drinking on her own. Around 2:30, she was walking on the wheel after eating half of her precious "bananas chip." We petted her, kissed her fuzzy head, and put her back in the wheel. Just before the light went out, she stood up, using the wheel brace as a support, winked at me, and smiled as if to tell me she would get better for us.
I had a dream later that night: I was helping my old high school with a school play, starring a man dressed as Artemis singing the chorus to Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" (Though its cold and lonely on the deep dark night, I can see paradise by the dashboard light). I woke up from the dream at 7:30, but incredibly peaceful, waiting for my time to play with a healthy Artemis, Athena, Persephone, and Algernon. I heard the wheel spinning, but didn't see Algernon running. I got up to see if Athena was running or if Artemis was better.
Instead, I saw Artemis lying next to the wheel, peaceful and still. "Oh no," I sighed as I petted her side. She was cold to the touch and dead. As I woke Cami up to tell her, in her sleep, she said, "No!" as if it would bring her back to life. But, it couldn't be done.
As sad as it is for us, I'm grateful for two things. The first is even having her in the first place. She was playful, sweet, and I'll always miss her little traveling songs. Even when she was sick, she'd reply to me with a chirp or a whistle. But, the second thing is that it wasn't the illness that got her. She started getting better, eating and drinking, and running. But it was the exhaustion that got her. She tried so hard to recover for us that she pushed herself too far. Even in the end, she was selfless and caring for those around her.
Goodbye, Artemis, my little song writer. You will be missed until I see you on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.