Zeke is gone. I will be taking him to another vet tomorrow to be cremated, as the one I use is very expensive (and it wouldn't be practical to use them for rat cremations).
He passed away during the gassing part of the procedure (they gas them and then inject them straight into the stomach or heart, both of which could potentially be very painful if they weren't already gassed & asleep). I've heard of people's rats struggling when being injected. Bacchus I think was already dead by the time he was put back on the table to be injected, although he was injected, still, before the vet checked. However, tonight Zeke was brought back into the room already wrapped up in a towel because he'd passed during the gassing (the vet said he injected him anyway just to be doubley sure that he was completely gone). R rushed to mine after work so that she could come (because she loves those rats), and she asked if we could see him, and so the vet unwrapped the little bundle. Zeke actually looked better than he'd looked for a long time (peace in death and all that). He looked more 'normal' and less boney and old. However, his head was twitching ever so slightly, giving the illusion that he was still breathing. I thought it was probably just those after-death reflexes, and didn't want to mention it for some reason, but R mentioned it and the vet looked closer and realised and apologised that we'd had to see it, but I didn't really mind. It wasn't upsetting movement. It was very subtle and rhythmic, so quite peaceful looking.
There was a woman in the vets with a pygmy hedgehog, and R got talking to her because she's never seen one in real life before (I haven't either, actually), and was asking about them. So I think it might have been because I had that in mind, but when Zeke was brought back in the towel he was wrapped in, from the angle I was looking at the carrier from, initially looked like a hedgehog! So I was at first sort of baffled that he'd brought the wrong animal back. It seemed sort of surreal, like... what a mistake to make when someone's just been bereaved! Then, when I realised, I found it hilarious but felt it was inappropriate to laugh so I held it back. The vet left the room at one point and I was telling R about it and we both did crack up laughing.
I feel exhausted, which I think is a mix of a long day with hardly any relaxation and the stress of taking Zeke to the vets. It's sad, but it sort of just also feels okay? I guess because he was old and you can't really stop that (whereas when a rat gets sick it feels like you need to fix it and if you fail it's harder).