Today, Ginger, my brother Stevie's guinea pig, died. It came as something of a shock to me when he brought her in, twitching slightly, obviously headed down a regrettable path. It's not as if I had that much of a connection to her. We didn't play fetch in the backyard. We didn't spend nights walking together through the neighborhood. Yet, she was there. And usually squeaking merrily, or impatiently awaiting the refilling of her water bottle.
I think I'm more surprised than anything that I feel the way I do. Not that I'm surprised that I'm upset about it, even if it's in small quantity. Instead, more so that I'm upset about something that had such a small effect on my life. I guess it was just that at times, she was really cute. She'd purr when you'd pet her. She'd squeak when she'd hear the refrigerator door open because she knew, on some basic guinea pig level that it meant there was a carrot in it for her. She didn't do much else. That whole exercise ball concept? Yeah, not her thing. But she was cute. One half of her body was white, the other half an auburn, with her head a mix of both. She looked like a large pill, split down the middle like that. I can't say I'll miss her, in the traditional sense. I just... it was humbling to spend a few moments with something I knew would probably not be alive tomorrow. I didn't know how or what she was feeling. I couldn't imagine it being anything that grand, really. I wonder if she could even tell the difference- that Stevie was there to hold her and comfort her until the end, while she was struggling (and failing) to stand and shaking and... outwardly sad... and that we kept her warm and comfortable to the best of our ability. I wonder, but I think part of me knows that she appreciated it, even if only in a way unique to guinea pigs.
When loss hits you, either small, large, or somewhere in between, it can truly shock you. It can shock the person you are. And most of all, it can shock the person you hadn't a clue existed within you.
I'll miss you, Ginger.