Thursday, December 20, 2012

growing up


My little girl grew up a little more today.

Hershey seemed to be doing okay when we got up; she was at least no worse. Or so we thought.

At about 7, as Zoe held her in the still steamy bathroom, she began to decline rapidly. Zo freaked out, and it took every ounce of my self control to not join her. M was already gone, so I had to wear my big girl pants and be a real, grown-up parent.

Within minutes we bolted out the door with Hershey in her travel box. I made the snap decision to go straight to the vet, knowing that whatever happened Zoe needed to be with her pet and school could wait. This was the type of life learning that doesn't happen in a classroom.

At the vet, we learned that Hershey's respiratory infection had bloomed into pneumonia and there was no hope. We decided that it was best to let Hershey go to be with God than have her continue to suffer. The vet took Hershey from the room and I held and rocked a sobbing girl as both our hearts broke.

So we talked about it. Together, we decided that God needs a great guinea pig like Hershey. We decided that Hershey would be okay, because she would be with Jesus and Mary and Joseph and all the angels and saints. We think that she's now a guinea pig angel, and that her angel wings are rainbow colored because that's what Zoe wants her own angel wings to be.

She eventually came to find her own peace with it, recognizing that while she's very sad she must go on. I gave her the decision to go to school or to home for a bit, and she chose school. M called ahead for us and they were waiting. The receptionist greeted us with hugs, and had called her teacher to give her a heads up. Her principal saw us in the hallway and offered words of comfort. We made it to her classroom and Mrs. F's grandmotherly hug was what finally did me in, and after kissing Zoe goodbye I literally ran from the school in tears. I am so grateful for the phenomenal community at her school.

She had a half day, so I picked her up and we got lunch, and then she hung out in my office while I worked the rest of the day (one of her favorite things to do). The faculty and monks doted on her, and plied her with treats and attention. By the end of the day she was her usual self.

We took Hershey back to PetSmart after work, meeting M there. She had already decided that she wanted another pig. "I can't go more than a day without a guinea pig, Mommy." She wanted to open the box to see Hershey. I debated in my head, and decided that we hadn't held back or sugar coated anything to this point and that she deserved to have her curiosity satisfied. She's seen dead people, after all. We opened the box. She cried again, as it hit her afresh that Hershey is really, truly gone. Then she composed herself and set to work selecting Hershey II. Or in Apple style, The New Hershey.

I am so, so proud of our little girl. She grew so much today, and showed so much strength and fortitude. She also displayed her very firm grasp of her faith, even at the age of seven, and showed me how wonderful it is to rely on that faith when your heart hurts.

I'm so proud of her I can hardly stand it.

Today was one of the more difficult days, because I felt helpless when it came to healing Zoe's heartache. It's been a rough week, on many different levels, but I feel like Christmas is almost here and with it comes magic. And hope. And love and joy and family and whole boatload of other good things. We will find much to celebrate.


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