I mentioned in my last post our guinea pigs, Daisy and Rose.
Weeelllllll…..*sigh*….. Rose has ummmm… passed on. Poor little thing.
I have acknowledge that I never warmed up to Rose in the few short weeks she was with us. She was distant and aloof while Daisy is inquisitive and spirited. In hindsight, I recognize that Rose was distant because she wasn’t feeling well. Damn you, prey animals, and your insistence on survival by way of pretending that you aren’t sick. Pneumonia. If I had caught it sooner, we might have been able to save her. We tried, her vet tried, but it wasn’t meant to be. RIP small one.
After I finished the required exercise in self-loathing for letting the creature down, I turned my thoughts to the next problem at hand: what to tell the kids. Especially, what would I tell Goose. Rose was her pig, as Daisy is Buddy’s. I momentarily wished for a religion to reference. There wasn’t much time to figure it out. I had to pick up the children from school and they would immediately ask about Daisy and Rose, and I would need to tell them.
So I did.
On my way to pick them up, my stomach did flips, and I felt panicky. How would they take it? Would they understand? I wanted to find a stand-in Rose to make it all go away, but resisted. A substitute is just that: a substitute. It would be a cop-out. What would I say?
I arrive at school, and pile the kids into the car. They see the carrier and ask.
“Did Daisy and Rose go to the doctor today?” Buddy asks.
“Yes,” I answer.
“Are they sick?” asks Goose.
Here it comes.
“Well,” I say, “Daisy is just fine. But Rose passed away.”
I immediately hate myself for using a euphemism.
“Is she still at the doctor? Is the doctor going to make her better?” Goose asks.
“Well, technically she’s still there, but the doctor can’t make her better. What I mean is: she was too sick, and…”
“Then when she’s better, she’ll come home again.” It was a statement, not a question. She was sure.
“No, Lovey. Rose was too sick. She was so so sick that the doctor couldn’t make her better, even though the doctor tried really hard to help. But 100 doctors can’t fix Rose. Rose died. That means that we can never see her again. She’s gone…. forever.”
I’m trying not to be dramatic, but want to make sure that they understand that “died” means Rose isn’t coming back. They stare at me in silence.
“Soooo,” I continue, ‘”what we need to do is take really extra extra good care of Daisy so that Daisy doesn’t get sick, too. Can you guys help me take great care of Daisy?”
“Sure, mommy. But where did Rose go?” Goose asks earnestly.
“Well, that’s a tough question to answer, but ummm…” I stammer for a second when Buddy interjects.
“Can we get Daisy a new friend?”
“No. Not yet. Not until we make sure that Daisy is well and strong. Then, possibly.” I pause. “Maybe in a few months.”
Buddy looks thoughtful for a moment and says, “Don’t worry, Goose. We can share Daisy, and we’ll take really good care of her. And when she’s really strong, we can get her a new friend. We’ll name her ‘Share’.” (Note: SHARE not Cher, as people have thought in the oral telling of this tale)
“Buddy, I think that would be a beautiful name for Daisy’s friend.” I tell him.
“I think so, too.” Goose nods.
And that was it. No tears. No awkward explanations. They haven’t asked any more questions and I’ve decided to let it be until they do. They are only 3, after all. Thank goodness I have them to remind me that most things aren’t as complicated as they might seem.