I'm not going to lie. It is emotional wreckage over here in the Smith household. Yesterday, at about 5pm, Denver and I took some Romaine lettuce to our two guinea pigs, Pippin and Frodo. They always make their little chirps when they hear the sounds of rustling plastic in the produce drawer. When Pippin didn't come to the door of his little guinea pig cottage, I knew something was wrong. He looked like he was sleeping. When he didn't respond to my touch, I knew he was gone. Let me just say, we have been fortunate enough to have never lost a pet (besides a hermit crab--and that was traumatic in its own way). My children still have all their grandparents, aunts and uncles and even some great-grandparents. So losing this cuddly little guy was a gut-wrenching experience.
These were no ordinary guinea pigs. They were held constantly by family and visiting friends, put on leashes and walked around the yard, taken to the drive-in movies in laundry baskets and set up in the back of the Suburban to watch the film. They were given the best produce--raddichio, Swiss chard, cilantro, basil, carrots with the tops still on. They had their own Facebook page. My husband worked for two straight weeks to build them a Guinea Pig Mansion so that they'd have space to scamper around. But now, when we open the door, there is only one. And I'm sad for Frodo, who has never known life without his brother-friend.
So today, we had the funeral. He was buried in a box, hand built by my son Denver and his dad. Each of the boys had ownership of one pig and Pippin belonged to my 11 year old son. Denver placed his favorite tie-dyed shirt that we made this summer in the box for soft bedding. All of us put something special in the box. It was nailed shut. Denver wrote on the outside "We love you, Pippin. We'll see you in heaven" A deep hole was dug in the pepper patch of our vegetable garden. Ecclesiastes was read by Dad, our surviving guinea pig was in attendance and held by my 9 year old Solomon, and roses, zinnias and Angel Trumpets were cut by me and placed on the mound. It was a reminder of how much I love my family. We are tightly-knit. We share in sorrows together and bear each other's burdens.
I am also so proud of my children. They pray with vigor. They weep without abandon. They do what needs to be done, down to hammering in the nails and digging the dirt. It hurts deeply to see your children suffer, arms around each other sitting on the edge of the swimming pool, looking out at the garden, tears flowing. I am grateful that despite their normal sibling rivalry, they are a "band of brothers" when they are hurt.
So, although his "Earth Suit" is no longer here and we ache for the absense, his spirit has been frolicking in heavenly meadows for over a day now. I will believe until my own dying breath that we are reunited with our pets in heaven. If I am wrong, I choose to live in ignorance because never seeing them again is too much to bear.
We'll never forget you, Pips. You were a "pig among pigs, a friend to all".