I just want to scream! Scream. Cry. Bang my head. Actually, I’ve been doing it all. None of it is helping. Nothing, and I really truly mean nothing, is going my way. I cannot find a ray of sunshine anywhere. I’m very much a glass-half-full person. I’m reknowned for forgetting the bad stuff & only having happy memories. But right now? Right now sucks.

Dave is still not home. We did finally get a start work date of March 5th. Monday! But. The HR department here is truly useless. They didn’t get his SOFA (work visa) paperwork done. So Dave can’t return to Germany. He can’t start work. We are still separated by half a planet. Repeat of the quick review: Job was posted in July. Dave applied in August. Interviewed in September. Soft offer in October. Waiver approved in November. Hard offer in December. Onboarding paperwork in January. Pre-employment physical in February. HR failed to file visa paperwork in March. It keeps going.

It’s been up to -18°C here. Prior to this spectacular cold snap, the coldest it’s been in 8 years is -7°C. And our oil ran low. Not that big a deal to call the oil company and order more.. but the oil company was out! The cold was a big deal for everyone. I’m currently babying The Big, Red, Intimating, not-out-of-order Machine with just enough oil to keep us heated. The oil guy called yesterday & we are finally getting a delivery on Tuesday! Please let the oil last till then.

While I can call the oil guy and get that fixed, when there’s oil, plumbing is a whole other story. Because. Of course Cole’s toilet breaks while Dave is gone. And of course, in a genius turn of engineering, there is no water shut-off switch for the toilet, or even just his bathroom, or even just the first floor. My saving grace was Cole’s friend Jans dad Stefan. He came over, peered in the really weird water tank with me. Came up with solutions. Ordered parts off of ebay, from China and from the local bauhaus (building house, aka Home Depot) and spent hours trying to fix it for me. On a bright note, my plumbing German has taken a huge turn for the better. And the toilet works again! No more running water washing euro’s down the drain.

All my kids have been sick, and in the hospital or ER, since we got on the civilian, post-retirement health insurance. That means we not only have co-pays and deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, but it also means we can’t see on-base (American) doctors. My German is pretty good, but sometimes, some of the medical stuff goes over my head. It was especially mission-critical with Tess this week. She had an ear infection 3-4 weeks ago. She had an allergic reaction to antibiotic number 1. She had an allergic reaction to antibiotic number 2. Hives outside and inside her body. Luckily I have some great friends that got us some liquid benadryl that I can pour down  her throat. It does wonders for disappearing hives. This week Tess got hives in her throat again. No antibiotics. Turns out she’s still fighting an infection, and the infection causes hives. We’ve got more emergency medicine at home, and most of the time she’s fine, but hives in her throat are a really big deal. I wish I had American doctors to hold my hand. Or Dave. Dave would be good.

And then. Then, in a paragraph I can’t really type out loud yet, It’s Not Goodbye! has become it’s goodbye. Not only that, it’s goodbye tomorrow. Mia & I cried together & held each other in the parking lot on base yesterday. Their rental van loaded with the last of their belongings, two of their kids and both cats. The hamster and Kami were coming home with me. Tess & Kami have one weekend to say goodbye. I heard them laugh & giggle & squeal all night, in their defense Voltron season 5 just came out. I’m dreading tomorrow. I’m dreading the drive up to Frankfurt. The final goodbye. It’s too much.

Yesterday afternoon Mia & I laughed through our tears. It couldn’t get worse. We were at the apex. The tippy-top of terrible. I hushed her quickly. I didn’t want to jinx it. But I wasn’t fast enough. It got worse. I drove my giggly girls, and Dane (who, honestly, is an honorary giggle girl), home. We stopped by kebap, Kami’s last chance before heading to Florida, and got home safe & sound. Tess had one chore before she could flip on Netflix and she pratically ran in the house to take care of the rat babies. It was Voltron time!

Two minutes later she knocked on my door. I turned from my computer, saw her face and knew. I’d known this was coming but I so wasn’t ready.

“Savannah passed away.” And Tess comforted me while I cried. Vanna was our old lady. The last survivor of the original trio (A Jumbled Mess, Goodbye Sweet Logan.). My favorite. Vanna was already 2 1/2 years old. That’s really old for a pet rat. We’d had her since Christmas 2015 and she is just part of our family. Part of me.

Out of all our rat babies (we have 3 newer, younger ratties too), Vanna loved me most. She’d always chose me. She loved to sit on my shoulder, nesteled in my hair, coo’ing in my ear. She’s the only rat we’ve had that makes this noise, it’s not quite coo’ing, more of a happy rumbling, and she only does it with me or when eating her favorite snack. She just made me feel loved and happy. So small and such a big impact on my heart.

The last months her fur has been thinning, she’s been thinning. I’ve been feeding her extra snacks, especially yogurt, she so loves yogurt! She also became incontinent, so we had to hold towels or pads and Vanna, because she couldn’t help it and we still love her. I’m also pretty sure she was mostly blind. Vanna used to be the gentlest to feed, but as the time went by, she started snatching her snacks, and then digging at our hands, fingers, nibbling till she got a tasty morsel. That nibbling got really close to biting this last week or two.

And she started sleeping more. Her young companions taking turns laying on top of her, keeping her warm. She was never alone, they watched over her. They kept her warm. Until yesterday. Yesterday Tess found her alone, cold, eyes closed. Briefly Tess thought she was sleeping, but she knew. Vanna was no more. Our old lady passed away in her sleep when we weren’t home.

My heart hurts.

Savannah, Willow and Logan