When I think about something that is ideal, something that God took a lot of time on, even had a little fun while creating this being, I think about Ruth. Ruth was a guinea pig, and if you didn’t know her, you’d think I was a loon. That’s because you didn’t know her. Seven years ago, I picked her out of a group of guinea pigs sitting in a huddle at the horse farm I went to. The farmer would go to an animal auction in Pennsylvania each week, and one week, he brought back a group of baby guinea pigs. I wasn’t a “gimme gimme” type of kid, but when I saw the little white guinea pig with a tan Mohawk, I looked at my mother with the unmistakable expression of want that only a persistent eight year old can conjure. After a few days of “please!” and “I’ll take care of it by myself – you won’t even know she’s here!” my mother caved in. We named her Ruth Olivia, I wanted a strong biblical name, and from the day I took her home from that farm, she was my constant companion. My baby, if you will. When I was younger, I would play with my friends always something that involved her, and as I got older, I would let her run around the kitchen as I ate or play in my bed as I studied. When I cried, she would curl up in a ball that fit perfectly under my chin, and softly purr until I stopped. For six and a half years, she would scream a high pitched whistle each time I walked into the room she currently resided in, demanding some offering of vegetable or fruits. My dad may have paid the bills, but Ruth had crowned herself the head of the house. But guinea pig’s bodies only last so long, and Ruth got sick. Six months after the fact, I’m sitting, looking at the place on my bed where I picked her up, and for the first time she wasn’t the always warm little creature that gripped on my fingers like I was used to, but a limp mass of flesh. The vet had told us a few days before that she had a tumor on her stomach. I remember watching through the glass as they attempted to shave part of her hair off. She leaned her head back and pedaled her feet through the air as though she was about to win the Tour De France. It didn’t matter, though, that she fought those clippers, because those hands were bigger and stronger than she was and those clippers got to her anyway. Just like those clippers got to her, so did death; because some things are bigger than you, bigger than me, and certainly bigger than the little Peruvian guinea pig we called Ruth.
October 3, 2008