Allison's Book Bag

Six-Word Saturday Meme #16

Posted on: June 8, 2013


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?


14 Responses to "Six-Word Saturday Meme #16"

Thanks everyone for your comments. I read them all as they arrived, and received much comfort from them, but couldn’t handle answering them last week. One step at a time. 🙂

I am so sorry for your loss. Our animal companions become such an integrated part of our lives. They do leave huge footprints. Yet, I believe their spirit remains with us even though their bodies cannot. Last year was a tough year for us — we lost 3 in less than 6 months.
May your upcoming weeks become easier with good memories.

Visiting from 6WS

I’m sorry for your loss too. 😦 Three in six months would be tough. Our other two pets are both seniors and so we sometimes cringe at the realization that we could lose them within a short span. Not that losing them at far apart times will be easier, but grief upon grief can feel insurmountable. Every time you catch your breath, to have it taken away again, that’s hard.

Hello Allison,

Yes I remember your last post about it and I’m terribly sorry for your loss. A loss of a love ones is always a loss, who is and at age doesn’t really matters, what we feel and what they meant is the real thing that kills us of pain for a long time. Depends on people. I really the way to talk about this, and It’s obvious that you had to face it more than once. Well, now I know for sure, that for some people, there are chapters that you just can’t close, you learn to leave with or maybe without the love ones.

Considering your my week was quiet and ordinary.

Take good care


I had a student years ago who also owned guinea pigs. The first time one of his died, his mom called to tell me. She said that I wouldn’t want him at school. He was in such grief. Whether for a pet or a person, their loss causes unfathomable pain.

I’m so sorry for your loss. I would never say “just a guinea pig.” We had a guinea pig for a few brief months a couple of years ago and when he died I was sadder than I had imagined possible for a rodent. They are such sweet little creatures, and his squeaks and grunts never failed to make me feel a little happier.

It has comforted me so much to hear from guinea pig owners. One of my friends on Facebook wrote: ” It may not make sense to some people but the energy in the house is certainly not the same without the piggies.” That is so true!

I’m so sorry. Please know that I’m thinking of you. *hugs*

I so feel for you, and empathize. Loss is such a hard feeling. After having survived cancer, twice, I often felt guilty of having survived, when others I knew, didn’t. I finally realized that my life was not theirs, or intertwined, and that God had a plan for each of us. It sounds to me like you have learned, the hard way, how to get past this. It is the next steps that are so important. Hugs, and God bless you with His comfort and peace.

One thing that has helped me this time to move forward was the looming start of my university course. One week after I lost Bumblebee, I had a choice to drop it or to immerse myself in it. The course is my last in a Teaching of Writing endorsement. Moreover, it’s offered only once every two years. I decided to take it. Although I tend to emotionally break at the smallest things, the interactions with colleagues and intense pace of assignments has helped. By the time it’s over, I think I’ll be better ready to handle solitary reflection and process all the griefs of this spring. Thank you for your prayers.

Oh sweetie, I just want to wrap my arms around you and give you a big old hug, then make you a cup of tea and have a heart to heart. I’m soooo sorry about Bumblebee, and everything else. I might not fully understand your relationship with animals, but I myself went thru 5 years of infertility, including 3 miscarriages. I’m also turning 50 and know what it’s like to now be an older mom. As a cancer survivor I can relate to the feeling of almost being surrounded by death.

If you ever want to email me, please feel free to email me.

Meanwhile, hang in there…and know you have people that care and understand.

Kayleigh, I’ll send you an email.

Allison – sorry to hear of the loss of your pet. Any loss leaves an empty space. You’re right though – it’s what we do after that matters. How we go on, how we honor and remember them, what we do next. Take care.

After Bumblebee died all I wanted to do was cry. At one point, it got so bad that my rib cage hurt. What helped me start to move forward is reminding myself of a line from Sorta Like A Rock Star which I read earlier this month: “Life goes on. Whether we choose to enjoy it or not. So you might as well find a way to enjoy the parts you can.” Nothing I can do will ever bring any of my guinea pigs back and so the best tribute I can give them is to write about them and to enjoy life. Bumblebee to her last day seemed to fight to stay alive; she loved life.

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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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