The long good-bye

Clara Pig (1)

February is such a cruel month and this year was no exception. It brought colds and conjunctivitis, frigid temperatures and snow-leaden roofs to shovel. And, to our house, it brought death. The day after Valentine’s Day, on a bitter, snowy afternoon, Clementine guinea pig passed away.
I noticed she was not herself early Saturday. She was lying on her side, breathing abnormally and looking miserable, poor baby. We pulled her out and held her wrapped in a towel and she seemed comforted by the contact and settled a bit. But, I know the signs. And this is the part of pet owner-ship I loathe. Yet, this, too, is a part of having a pet; the responsibility to help them pass with dignity and ease.
I called the vet, but of course, it was Saturday and our regular vet wasn’t there. We called an emergency animal clinic nearby only to discover that the only doctor on duty was severely allergic to guinea pigs. No, I am not making that up. (They did say the shift change was 8pm that evening, so we were more than welcome to come then. Super helpful, obviously.)
We sat in the living room on the couch, while the snowflakes swirled outside the windows. Scott, Maggie, Moira and I talked and held Clementine and whispered good-byes to her. I told Moira that Clementine was dying, that she was an old piggie and there really wasn’t much we could do other than hold her and comfort her and let her know she was loved.
Moira was inspiring, strong and brave. She held her pig in her arms for nearly 4 hours. And some of it wasn’t easy. I was so proud of Moira. She was sad and upset and yet she was so able to put Clementine’s needs first. Moira is so incredibly sensitive, yet tough. She did not let her emotions get in the way of what she needed to do – there are many adults who have not mastered that skill. So, while it was sad, it was also amazing to watch Moira in action and see what an incredible person she is… I felt pride and love and I feel blessed to have such a daughter.

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