And then last night happened. We have three guinea pigs who are on a special diet to prevent & combat bladder stones. One had surgery about a month ago and needs another surgery. He takes medicine five times a day. For the most part he has been good about taking his medicine, but the last couple of days I have had to semi-force the syringe in his mouth. Last night was one of those moments and it broke my heart when he squirmed and squeaked, trying to get away. Every few minutes, I hear cries of pain as he tries to use the bathroom. Today my heart dropped when I couldn't see him breathing and too afraid to touch him, I called out his name in a panicking tone. At the second call of his name, he perked up his head, eyes half open from being woken from a deep sleep (something he hasn't done in a long time). Immediately tears flowed out from my eyes as a wave of emotion came over me as I felt both scared and relieved.
This little one to the left and hanging out in the pumpkin is Eggnog. He has two brothers, Mocha and Coconut. He is also the one who is struggling with bladder stones. As I sat here trying to convince myself of how much more deserving of children I am than other people, God reminded me of this precious animal. And a realization came over me....
I am not responsible for the life of a child right now and I may never be. But I am responsible for the life of Eggnog and the lives of his brothers. They depend on me for their survival. They know me, they know my voice...they trust me. They know I will not harm them. They know if they get scared, they can bury their face under my chin and I will protect them. They know I will bind their wounds when they bleed, I will cradle them when they whimper, and I will comfort them when they mourn. I shudder to think of what would have happened to these beautiful creatures had they wound up being some child's "starter pet" (the idea of a starter pet truly upsets me). Would they know to rub Mocha in that special way that makes him purr or what way to hold him that makes him feel safe? Would they know how to watch Coconut's body language since he's a pretty quiet piggy or that he likes to be rubbed under his chin? Would Eggnog get the proper care he needs for his bladder stones and would they know his most favorite treat is watermelon? I'm grateful that I know them to know all of these things.
I held Eggnog in the bed today and we laid down together. He laid on a towel as he has been having trouble controlling his bladder. A few minutes into our quiet time (known as "Mama & Eggnog time"), he stiffened up and began to cry in pain. I knew this meant he was peeing. I gently rubbed his back and softly told him that it was ok, that I was right here. A few seconds later the crying stopped and he walked a couple of inches over to my face and licked my lips a few times. My heart swelled.
I can't honestly say that I am content in our no-children situation right now. But as I look into the faces of these beautiful animals who depend on me, I can't help but think that God has set aside this time for me to take care of them. Right now, they need me.
When I am tempted to ask why, I see this big hand pointing towards their cage and a voice that says, "Because."
Photo by Mary King (me)