We said goodbye to this little creature yesterday. Her name was Dandelion and she had our hearts.
I had no idea how much we would come to love her the day we brought her home for my daughter’s seventh birthday, almost three years ago. She was curious, social and sweet. We got to know her sounds and body language. Scratched between her shoulder blades and behind her ears. Handpicked her namesake greens from the yard and took great joy in watching her eat her “lettuces” and “deliciousnesses.”
One of the things we read when preparing for Dandelion’s arrival was that guinea pigs should be family pets. My wife and I took that to heart, caring for Dandelion day in and day out, trimming her nails, cleaning her cage, petting her cheeks, keeping her in hay and fresh fruits and veggies. That daily connection became straight up love.
You see, guinea pigs hide their illnesses as they are prey animals. Show any weakness and you’re a goner. By the time you see symptoms, it’s not unusual for it to be too late. We were way too late. First thing in the morning, my wife took her to the vet. By 4:30, Dandelion was gone. There was no time to get used to the idea of her dying.
It hit us like the proverbial ton of bricks, or freight train, or [insert heavy, fast moving object here]. Right in the feels, as it were. This morning was rough. When we make our daughter’s lunch is when we would set aside apple slices and carrots to bring to Dandelion. We’d go into the room and open the shade to let the sunlight in. Today there was no need.
We had fish for a while and, while I was distraught at each one of their passings (five in three years), they didn’t have that innocent, precarious trust that shows up in picture above. We joked that she didn’t know from day to day whether we were going to feed her or eat her. We like to think she was pleasantly surprised day after day that it was the former, kind of like Westley and the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride. This little cutie–we would remark how in certain profiles she resembled a “D” on its side, or a watermelon seed, or a drop of water–became a point of reference for so much of our daily language that today feels like there’s a big old hole in our lives.
Despite her size and the relatively short time she was with us, Dandelion’s death is every bit as painful as when our 14-year-old dog, Greta, and 14-year-old cat, Harriet, died in the last few years. I had no idea it would be like this. And I wouldn’t trade our time with her for anything.
I know the feeling will grow smaller in time, but maybe writing this post might help a little today. There’s still a hole to dig and a sweet little body to lay to rest.
We’ll miss you, Dandelion.