This place will always mean something to me. It will always remind my heart of love and the times lost. It will always nudge my brain into reliving the past. It will always represent her.
The small-animal hutch sits empty and forlornly in the corner of the garden. As the rain drops dance down the misty window pane, I gaze lovingly through the glass and down upon the drenched wood and weeping metal bars. The cherry blossom sways over the felt roof as a guardian angel watches over a dying man, and the specks of pink and white which have survived the weather shine like a deer’s eyes in headlights. The tiny flowers are reminders of spring and they make me smile sadly.
The crumbling brick from the shed behind her home is a lunar landscape with shell-holes and trenches for the ants to avoid, as soldiers did in wars long ago. The mottled colours are muddy as a whole, but flashes of brilliant red and sandy grey catch my wandering eyes. The patio beneath her home is laid at an angle and I fondly remember propping up one wooden leg when I first brought her home, so her hutch would not lean. The cement has long been washed away but in between the fading slabs are flakes of saw dust and pencils of hay. The wooden fence beside her hutch protected her from the wind as a shield protects a soldier from arrows in battle.
Tuffs of life poke their stubborn heads through cracks and around her home; the green grass strands are delicate and elegant. They bow and curtsy under the powerful winter rain but allow the tiny droplets to run swiftly down their velvet planes. Alongside the clusters of blades, Dandelion leaves spring and droop under the wind and water. They thrive now. They used to vanish so swiftly when she still lived here, her milky teeth destroying the weeds and ecstatically swallowing the plant. They were her favourite.
Now there are flowers. Reds and yellows, blues and pinks, rich purples and sombre oranges contrasting with the ancient brick. The vitality that she once brought to this corner remains in the flowers I planted with passionate exactness and damp eyes in remembrance of her.
But behind the metal bars lies darkness. Her wooden floor has no sawdust to play in or hay to sleep in. Only ghosts of the nests she made are here. There are no colourful toys and dripping water bottles, for her ghost does not need these. Her tiny form still lies across my heart, curled into a tiny, vulnerable ball as she took her final puff of air and lay, as if she was sleeping, in my arms and over my still-beating heart. Her presence in my life, I am ever thankful for and my gratitude knows no bounds for I loved her with all my heart. The sadness, the ghosts, the memories all come flooding back as I stare at her empty guinea-pig hutch. It will remain there as a daily and constant reminder of the happy times now tinged with sadness. For I never want to forget my beautiful guinea-pig, who survived her last night to say good bye to me. She was ill, so very ill, but she struggled through the night to be held one more time by me and to finally die in my arms and shaking embrace. As I stroked her feather-soft fur she seemed to finally be at peace and accepted her fate, slipping into Death’s open arms as she lay curled over my chest. She survived to say good bye to me. Thank you.
I never want to feel the guilt of forgetting her, that would surely destroy me and tear open the cavern of sadness that is lodged in my heart. The gratitude I feel for having the opportunity to love her, know her, remember her and finally for her strength to remain in this world one more night for me is a burden I bear readily. Her life meant the world to me. That corner of my garden means the universe now.