Life will never be the same
My mom died when I was four. This loss forever changed my life. My dad and I have lost five dogs. Each time one of them died, a tiny piece of my heart broke too. Three of my grandparents have died. My one remaining grandparent knows that I finally found the love of a partner, but none of my grandparents saw me marry. (My living grandparent was too fragile for an airplane trip.) In five years of marriage, I have experienced three miscarriages. My husband and I are now on an adoption waiting list.
These are some of the moments in my life which have brought sorrow. Each has made me wonder why I should get up in the morning and question how I could make it through another day. The pain that each invoked seemed too much to bear. These moments all stole from my happiness, rather than added to it.
This past week, my third and final guinea pig died. My life will never be the same.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Guinea pig? Who cares?” If so, you should probably stop reading right now. No, a guinea pig is not a person. But I’m an animal lover; I’m devoted to my pets.
When I woke up this morning, I expected to hear Bumblebee yanking on her water bottle. I crawled out of bed and headed to the kitchen to fetch her lettuce and pellets, but then remembered she died last weekend. Even later as I returned to the bedroom for a devotional, I missed the sound of her WHEEK. Reading felt like a lonelier experience, even though I just as often read apart from her as with her. I tread on hay while walking through the halls and find a strand of grass on the recliner.
I’ve been caring for one guinea pig or another for every day of the past thirteen years, and suddenly that part of my life is over. For such little creatures, they leave large footprints. My world is filled with constant reminders of Bumblebee’s life.
With loss comes with the sense of urgency. Bumblebee had been growing older, but otherwise her health was fine. Then one day she lost the use of her legs and everything changed. And that is how life can work. You grow up with grandparents always being around, but then cancer debilitates them and you lose them. A neighbor gives you a dog, he becomes your best friend, but in three years his heart gives out. Or one week you’re feeling nauseous and happily pregnant, you even hear your baby’s heartbeat, but in the eighth week a technician informs you of a miscarriage. Or once upon a time you wanted to grow up and become an adult. Now fifty is just around the corner and you miss your childhood.
With this sense of urgency also comes the desire to create meaning from all of these losses. This is how beauty arises. Bumblebee was my third guinea pig. Through these pocket critters, I rediscovered my childhood joy of writing stories. Thanks to an eighteen-year-long companionship with a Papillion, and prior to that a three-year-one with an elderly Lhaso Apso, I now pick the neediest shelter dogs to help. Many stories that I write feature grandparents. And maybe because I grew up with sadness as a constant shadow (which can happen when a daughter loses her mom) I chose a profession where I work with struggling students.
Life is never the same following the death of a loved one. But we choose how to move forward, and how to honor those we’ve loved and lost. And so I write. To remember, to share, and to bring meaning.
That’s my week. What about yours?