Today my daughter’s guinea pig died. There wasn’t much warning. He’d got very thin and he wasn’t squeaking much. We found him curled up in the corner of the hutch he shared with Micky (the other guinea pig), and it didn’t look good.
I don’t have much cash to spare as a single mum, so emergency visits to the vet are a luxury I’d always try to avoid. Except he really did look poorly.
And Lula was very worried.
So we took him at 9pm on the 20 minute journey to the surgery. The vet insisted we try and treat him, even though he was barely moving. They gave him antibiotics and x-rayed him ( how could I say no?). But he died this afternoon. I knew he would.
And Lula was very sad.
Three hours on, she’s wiped her tears away and she’s jumping happily on the trampoline. So why is it I’m still quietly crying? He was only a guinea pig. I didn’t even know him very well.
Basil and I weren’t close. I’d let him out into his grassy run every morning and top up his food and water but that was about the extent of it. I rarely had him on my lap for any more than a few minutes and cleaning out the hutch always felt like a bit of a chore. I did love his hair though. It was spectacularly glossy and bouffant. Everyone commented.
Yet now I feel a surge of love for this small furry being. He will never know how his passing unleashed a tidal wave of raw, bone aching, mind cleansing emotion that’s been fighting to escape for too long.
How could he? He was only a guinea pig.
Yet as his tiny furry little body rests in the flowery grave at the top of our garden, my mind flies back for the first time in years to the hospital room where my mum died. Then it quietly soars on over to the hospice with the fluttering curtains, where my dad squeezed our hands then left us.
Our minds cleverly tuck away the feelings that are too much to bear. But every now and then a doorway opens and everything comes flooding out. Death is something we try not to think about but sometimes we should allow ourselves more time to mourn the ones we’ve loved and lost
Basil the guinea pig, not only did you have the coolest hair in the world, you opened a pressure valve of sadness that’s been sealed tight for too long. My heart feels heavier today but it will be lighter tomorrow.
May angels take you to your hay-filled meadow in the skies and give you the biggest carrot going.