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By Nawara Fattahova

A pet is not just an animal - it's a member of the family. When a pet dies, it hurts and those who don't understand this, who don't have pets can seem heartless or cruel for lacking empathy.

I fell in love with sugar gliders even before adopting them. I always wanted one, though they are not really meant to be pets. But my mom refused, she did not want pets in the house. Then one day a friend told me her brother was leaving the country and wouldn't take his two sugar gliders with him. So I ended up adopting them, telling my mom I had saved their lives. I explained that otherwise they will be thrown on the streets and die, as they can't tolerate the weather of Kuwait.

As soon as my mom saw them and looked at their cute faces, she forgot her anger and objections and welcomed them home. She fell in love with them, and she even fed them when I wasn't at home or early in the morning before I woke up. She especially liked to share her croissants. Even when one of them escaped from the cage and I was hunting for him in the house and he bit me, I was never mad at him.

I was always worried who would take care of my lovely sugar gliders Mango and Mishmish when I planned to travel. I had to make sure I gave them to trusted friends who would take good care of them and who didn't have small kids or animals who might possibly harm them, which wasn't always an easy job.

After having them for four years and two months, I lost the female, Mishmish. It was so hard watching her die without being able to help. I took her to different veterinarians, but they just gave her vitamins and said they didn't know what else to do. When I finally found a good vet who had some knowledge of these exotic animals, it was too late, and Mishmish passed away. The vet said she most probably had kidney disease as was she was drinking too much in the last three days. When sugar gliders get old, the kidney is the organ that gets damaged.

I guess she was old. The lifespan of sugar gliders is short, as they only live between five to eight years. The vet told me that I was doing well as they lived with me for over four years, as she had met people whose sugar gliders died in less than a year. I buried her with a broken heart and much pain.

I know Mishmish was old, but it is so hard to lose her after more than four years and so many memories. I feel bad for Mango, who is very lonely now. I'm not sure what to do. I thought of placing him at the zoo with other sugar gliders to keep him in a collective, but the staff told me that they don't have space for him and no one to take care of him.

I was shocked by some negative and emotionless comments of people on her death, as if it was a broken glass or some unimportant thing. Only those who had a pet and lost it understood my great pain and loss. It's not just an animal - it's a living soul and breathing creature like humans, but more precious than most humans on this planet.

May you rest in peace, my lovely Mishmish - I will never forget you.

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