Monday, January 24, 2011

Death and the Guinea Pig.

(right: Albert in former days)
Despite the fact that there is now some glorious sunshine pouring down from the blue (ish) sky I am definitely feeling a bit low today.
This is largely due to lack of sleep (Daughter #3 had a rowing 'head race' which necessitated a 4.30am wake-up to get us over a hundred miles distant for 8am start) which was compounded last night by being woken with a start at a loud noise (drunkards down the street) and an inability, it seemed, to get back to sleep fully.
Coupled with this, I went out to the guinea-pigs' hutch at bedtime and found Albert, the littlest fellow, inert and cold.
This wasn't totally a surprise: he had been failing gradually since before Christmas. I'd been bringing them both in faithfully every night and ensuring that they both had plenty of fresh greenery in their diet (g-p's, like humans and unlike many other creatures, cannot manufacture their own vitamin 'c') and keeping their quarters spotlessly clean. Alas, to no avail! Sometime whilst we were in Lincolnshire he shuffled off his mortal coil and headed to the Great Clover Patch in the Sky.

As usual, I got quite weepy (I don't even manage to dispose of the deceased goldfish without a snivel) and called upon the Husband to prepare a suitable grave under the back lawn, where so many other Small Creatures lie.
Albert was still reasonable flexible, and his little head lolled over my wrist as I lay him gently in the ground. I had to leave at the moment of inhumation itself to comfort a sobbing Bright-Eyed Boy who had just been made aware of the situation, and to dab my own eyes.
It's very strange but even had Albert still been warm, it was obvious that he was quite dead - there is something that leaves the body at the moment of death that is perceptible even if your were not a believer in the soul. It is a life-force that exits, a vital spark that seems to be more than just the sum of biological processes. The essence of Albert himself had left the building.
Alfred, big, daft, pink-eyed and pinked lipped ('like a woman, m'lord') appeared agitated. When I put him out in the hutch on his own this morning (life must go on, even for guinea pigs) he snuffled about where the body had been laid before retreating to the bed-department, no doubt to have a little weep of his own (anthropomorphism). I shall feed him spinach for his tea to strengthen and sustain him in his loss.

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