Noticed when I was in the kitchen getting candy into the plastic cauldron that Ham was very still. Didn't look like he was breathing. I nudged him a little with a pencil. He was obviously stiff. We didn't tell the kids until after trick or treating -- I didn't want the holiday to be ruined for them. Good decision, as older son cried inconsolably, while younger son pretended that he was not that upset, then went upstairs and got his blankie and cried inconsolably.
What's interesting is that my little cat had been acting strangely all day and refusing to eat her food, which is in a dish right under the hamster cage. She was pacing and yowling and we decided it would be best to bury Ham immediately, so we held a candlelight funeral in the backyard. Kids took turns with the shovel, crying inconsolably. And older son wanted the prayer. In Hebrew.
Interesting that after four years of struggling to use Sephardic pronunciation at Washington Hebrew when I grew up with Ashkenazi grandparents, now I can't do the Ashkenazi pronunciations either without tripping up. (The hard Ts are soft Ss in some places with Ashkenazi pronunciations; if you've ever been to a Jewish funeral or Yom Kippur service, it's the prayer that starts either "Yitkadal v'yitkadash" or "Yiskadal v'yiskadash.")
I did not expect to be spending any of Los Dias De Los Muertos presiding over an actual funeral. In Hebrew. Am rather freaked out, though not nearly as upset as my poor kids. Maybe we should have waited till morning to tell them, but I wanted them to be able to see the hamster one more time and had no idea what kind of shape it would be in in the morning.
Ham in happier times.