Around three years ago, we inherited two guinea pigs from a family who couldn’t care for them anymore.
Though we are not particularly pet people, we grew fond of Ginger and Holly, the two chubby rodents who occupied a large cage in the corner of the room off the kitchen.
Aside from a long-gone beta fish, owning these guinea pigs was my children’s first experience having pets. We learned to feed them, give them water, give them fruit and clean their cage.
We probably didn’t pet them as much as we should have, but we did visit them when they would squeak at us and occasionally took them out to nibble on the grass in our front yard.
Recently, we had another experience most pet owners face: one of our guinea pigs died.
I thought she was just sleeping, but realized she’d gone to guinea pig heaven shortly before it was time to pick up the kids from school.
With somber faces, we wrapped the critter in a kitchen towel and took turns digging a grave in the corner of our back yard, which we covered with rocks.
We held a quiet burial on a sunny weekday afternoon, said a prayer, and made sure the memorial was out of the way of the strip of lawn we used to hit baseballs and kick soccer goals.
“Thank you Lord for teaching us to care for Holly,” we prayed. “We learned some responsibility and had fun petting her. Please take her up to heaven with you where she can play on the grass anytime she wants.”
It seems a little quieter in the room off the kitchen now and it may be my imagination, but Ginger, the remaining guinea pig, seems a little lonely.
“Dear Lord,” I prayed that night. “Please keep Ginger around for a while longer. I really don’t want to have to bury another pet. And I’m even more sure we’re not ready to get a dog.”
Elizabeth Moore is the Patch Regional Editor for Essex County.