Tuesday, 30 December 2014

RIP Lily Rose

As I mentioned in the last post, our beloved Lily Rose has shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to that great web in the sky.

She was named after the John Singer Sargent painting Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.

It has hit me particularly hard as she was our first. Not our actual first, Spiderman had Shirley when we met and later we had Charlotte, but our first in the UK. Our first “rescued” spider. Our first “second hand” spider. 

We weren’t looking. We didn’t plan it. It just happened. Spiderman was walking through town and saw a notice on a shop window. A Lasiodora Parahybana, the Salmon Pink Bird Eater, one of the three largest species in the world. They can grow to have a leg span in excess of 10 inches (25 cm) and so need larger space to live. There was a photo of her, all burgundy with pink highlights, and she was so beautiful. Just perfect.

We fell in head over heels love. How could you not? This lovely creature was so obviously one of God’s most beautiful and graceful handiworks.

We went in to enquire and she was being sold by a woman named Sue who was having financial trouble and needed to sell her as she could no longer take care of her.  She was heartbroken because she had raised her from a spiderling, when she was no bigger than your thumbnail and now was as big a as a man’s hand. We had to have her.

She was our first. She was our big girl. She was often everyone’s favourite due to her size and grace.

It just sort of snowballed from there. We picked up a few more rescued spiders when Sue could no longer afford to keep them and we picked up a few more new ones down the line. At one time we had eight. In the last few years we lost Pirouette and Tibia.

Now we have five.

I think maybe we secretly knew it was coming. She hasn’t been the same since the move. She had looked old and shrunken. It was like the tank dwarfed her--something that never happened before. She always has such…presence….I don’t know. She just seemed to “own” the space like a model “owns” the catwalk. Lately, she seemed lost.

She had stopped eating and her colour had dulled and darkened. Her knees had gone all scabby. These are all signs that a healthy spider is going to moult and then emerge from shedding her skin like a butterfly, bigger with new and glorious colours.

It never happened.

She was increasingly sitting in the corner on the heat mat looking frail. She wasn’t cruising the glass walls of her tank anymore or (thankfully) trying to hang upside down from the mesh roof and breaking a fang like she did one other time. Naughty girl. 

On Christmas eve we were giving all the girls the gift of an extra cricket and that’s when we found her.

Sitting still on her heat mat. Too still. We didn’t want it to be true.

She didn’t respond to drops of water or gentle blowing nor to a very gentle poke with a paintbrush.

She was gone.

And she ponged. So it probably had happened the night before and the heat mat had made the smell worse. Poor Lily Rose.

She was approximately fourteen years old and we had had her for over six years. That’s a good life for a spider.

But I am so sorry that it happened at Christmas.

We buried her on Christmas day in the soft earth under a thorny rose bush. We sang Jesus Loves Me as that is the law for pet funerals (at least in my family).

But it hurts. More than Tibia and Pirouette. Maybe because it was Christmas or maybe because she was so big and majestic. Maybe because she was the first.

Oh the lovely Lily Rose, we will miss you. Your tank will be cleaned and our second biggest Blanche Dubois (who has legs like Cyd Charisse) will move in. Will it ever feel like hers and not yours?

Probably. She needs the space. She will unfurl like a flag and we will be surprised at how big and beautiful she really is.

But she won’t be you.

Go in peace my big girl. We loved having you as part as our family.