Late every Sunday afternoon I go to school to take care of Ella the Fella, our beloved guinea pig. He is old, and has felt boney over the past year. Last Sunday I accidentally left the door of the cage open, but no worries, Ella was there, happy as a clam.
Today he was still. Too still. I reached in to pat Ella, and I knew he was dead. I kept nudging him, first playfully, then harder. My head knew he was dead, but my heart didn’t want to believe it.
I was sad and cried. Then I became angry. That surprised me. I even yelled. “Ella, how can you do this now? The children have just fallen in love with you. Tomorrow night is our big family party. Couldn’t you have waited till after the party?”
Terrible words. I said those to a beloved pet. When I tell the children that Ella has died, they will have a host of emotions and questions, too. Some will cry, some will be angry. We will talk. Oh, how we will talk! I will ask plenty of questions to encourage a discussion, such as, “Can Ella ever come back?”
And, Ella will be there, wrapped in his blanket. Children will want to see him, maybe pat him, and say goodbye.