Almost exactly two years ago, my family sent me on a scavenger hunt on my birthday. It was after we had eaten dinner, and my brother slipped me a paper. This paper sent me to various spots around the house, where each sat objects needed to maintain a pet guinea pig. A bag of food in the bathtub, a toy behind a chair, a water bottle under the table… until finally it all ended behind the couch in the great room, a cage. I was beyond giddy, squealing and jumping up and down. All that was missing was the guinea pig.
“Can we go now? CAN WE GO NOW?!”
I pleaded with my mom.
“Sure we can go tonight, or we can go in the morning if you-”
“NO! RIGHT NOW!”
I grabbed her purse for her and sprinted to the door.
We pulled into Petco at about 7:30. It was dark and I was humming with that birthday buzz and itch for a sweet baby gerbil to take come.
My 13-year-old nose was pressed against the glass. Three sets of rodent eyes blinked back. One belonged to a black guinea pig, little and black is all I remember. You don’t see many black guinea pigs floating around on chain emails or google images. They’re all brown and white- spotted but too much blow-dryer.
So I think that’s why I picked Oreo… she was so different.
Not very photogenic but… different.
Oreo came home that night in a cardboard box on my lap with Petco’s logo on the side, and was put in a freshly made-up cage and pristine water bottle. That night, I watched her royal cuteness sniff things as I lay on my bed, the happiest 13-year-old in the world.
It’s been two years and in that time. She’s put on a little weight and gotten a sister, Chewbacca. (Yes I did say sister) Chewbacca’s a little different than Oreo. She bites and doesn’t like people. But I didn’t realize until just recently how much she really loves her sister.
Two days ago Oreo got a boo-boo. You might call it a wart or a bubble but I think that’s all disgusting to we’ll just call it a boo-boo. The Boo-Boo started out very small and then became a big problem yesterday. Poor Oreo. We called a Veterinary friend, who highly recommended that we go to an actual clinic and get some antibiotics. So I put my little cookie into a basket, covered her up in a towel and gave her some hay to calm her fluttery little nerves.
There was a poodle with an earache, Finding Nemo in the corner, and Nurses that were larger than life. Gosh I love those ladies. They came over and googled at Oreo but then winced at the Boo-Boo.
We sat in a room with the Doc who basically said,
“This is a pretty serious boo-boo. We’ll use medicine, which might work, or we’ll do an operation which might work a little better. ”
Behind his words I heard, “She’ll just die one way or another.”
We chose the medicine route and Doc took Oreo in the back to clean up the Boo-Boo.
We went back out to the
living waiting room and waited. Nemo was still on. One of the Nurses went out to check on Oreo, and came back with a bent frown.
“Poor little Oreo… what a sweet wittle Guinea Piggy!”
She was sweet. Why do you think I named her after a creme-filled-cookie ?
The managing nurse came over to talk to us about the medicine. Doc came out with my basket and my trembling critter under her towel.
Doc told me that she was one of the best guinea pigs he’s ever worked with.
That was a hammer to my heart. I never realized this, but Chewbacca’s a normal guinea pig apparently. Let that sink in.
I lifted the towel.
She had a shaved little bottom with the exposed Boo-Boo, nasty stitches, and yet, she was the sweetest thing. She looked up at me and said, “Mommy, it hurts. I wanna go home.”
I cried the whole way home because if it get’s too bad, the $800 operation might just stop her little heart, so we’ll have to…
I have experienced death passively but I’ve never once held a little life in my hands. I suppose this is what it’s like being a mother. Providing life and love for another who would be nothing but a whisper in the wind without you. It’s incredibly hard to watch that life suffer and sit in the hands of fate instead of in yours. Your loving and protective hands.
She’s a guinea pig. Not a child of someone’s in Iraq or an at-risk-youth in the streets. But I get it now. Why it must be so hard for mommies to let go, because things like this might happen if you leave and then I’ll never be able to forgive myself. All children are sweet to their mothers. And it’s that sweetness that delivers a blow to the heart.
Chewbacca and I have three more weeks with Oreo. But that’s not all. My whole family does too, they love the pigs very much. (Yes dad including you somewhere deep down!) Tonight my little brother made a make-shift hut out of a cardboard box for Oreo because she has to be quarantined away from Chewbacca and the wooden hut they already share. My own mommy shredded paper and cleaned away the boo-boo germs for, as she calls them, her “grand-piggies”.
You, my dear dear reader have got a mommy too and other people who love you almost as much as she does. So please, do your best not to get hurt, whether it be staying away from drugs, designating a driver, or just walking away from the fight. “You’ve only got one life so make sure you live it right.”
This one’s for you Oreo.
Mommy loves you Oreo. <3