Two Christmas's ago L asked for a small mammal-type creature on her wishlist. After consulting with various experts who nixed hamsters (nocturnal biters) and guniea pigs (disease prone prima donnas), we purchased a white rat she named Ruby and all the trimmings necessary for Ruby's domicile. About three weeks later it was apparent that Ruby needed a companion, so I found a fancy rat at PetCo and dubbed her Wyni.
We had great plans to train them to do various tricks but between school, work, scouts, and writing, we were doing well to just keep them fed and clean. Two months ago, Ruby developed a tumor on her rump and although she was a trooper about it, died about a month later. Wyni was inconsolable; all through Ruby's life and especially toward the end, Wyni took care of Ruby, bringing her food, grooming her, and snuggling while Ruby slept. I never knew rats could cry - not tears mind you, but tiny wails over and over again. She'd curl up next to a wood toy Ruby favored toward the end of her life and shiver there. Then she stopped eating and drinking.
We tried to cheer her with cuddles when she cried, but being alone was too much for Wyni. I found her dead this morning, before the girls were really awake, then I had to prep myself to tell them they had lost another pet. L wept and managed to remark "She died sad." I had no words for that, because I know L was right. Wyni died of a broken heart. And to die sad is nothing we wish for any creature. To die peaceful. To die happy. To die contented. These we hope for, but there is no telling how each passing happens. We might die angry, surprised, regretful, but to simply die sad is well, a sad sad thing.