Saturday, November 20, 2010

Last Days

As you may recall, last fall Muriel had some health problems last fall after she contracted an infection in one of her eyes. Needless to say, it was a pretty difficult time for me, and back then I didn’t know if she would make it. Once I saw her condition, I knew I would have to get it taken out, but because of the pain she stopped eating almost completely, and I ended up having to take her to the veterinary hospital to get them to make her eat again. My most vivid memory of this was from the drive to the hospital. I drove with one hand on the wheel and the other petting Muriel in her box, and again and again I did my best to reassure her. I’ve always been the sort of person to talk to animals as if they could understand, and before we entered the hospital, I looked down at her and said, “I’m going to make sure you’re not in pain anymore. No matter what, I don’t want you to hurt.”

While I waited for the doctors to finish working on Muriel, I reconciled myself to the idea that she might not survive her illness. I even said “goodbye” to her before they took her back to the examination area, just in case. So when she started to eat again, putting back on enough weight that she could have the infected eye removed, I was naturally grateful. As you already know, she survived that surgery as well. After she recovered from the illness and became her ornery self again, we started joking around the house that she was indestructible.

Of course, this wasn’t true. Guinea pigs are small and fairly fragile creatures, and their life span averages roughly four years. When she fell ill again last weekend, it had been a little over four years since I first brought her home, and she had lived to a fairly good age for her species. And because guinea pigs are so delicate, I didn’t want to run the risk of putting her under the knife again. After all, we had fought off death together once already, and I didn’t want to risk tempting fate again. So instead, I decided to spend one last night with my Muriel, cradling her to my chest as I gave her water from her bottle. If I was really going to have to say goodbye, I wanted to do it at home, surrounded by the family (human and canine alike) who had grown to love her these past four years. And when she passed away in her sleep that night, I thought that was just about the best she could have gone, much better than I feared would happen when she was sick last year.

Goodbye, Muriel. Thank you for being part of my life.



I'm so sorry. My cat got sick earlier this year and it was rough for me. all better now but still getting up there in years.

But Muriel did a good job being a beautiful pet and you did a good job being Muriel's human so good on both of you.

Stacia said...

I'm so sorry about Muriel. She looks like such a sweetie, and you gave her a great home and a lovely life.

Steve C. said...

Lovely piece, Paul. RIP Muriel. You will be missed.

linda said...

My condolences. We've had several GP's, a dog and cats. Their loss is always deeply felt, but having been able to share time with them, memories remain.