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egklein

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I always wanted a pet growing up, but we never really had one. Just two years ago, my parents bought my brother and I (high school-aged) each a guinea pig. Sisters, Lexi (his) and Glass (mine). I mostly took care of both of them, and since coming home from college because of COVID, I spent a lot of time with them.

Just a few months ago, we took Lexi to the vet because she had a cyst. The vet also discovered that she had many lumps in her throat, most likely lymphatic cancer. We didn't know how long she had left, but knew the end was coming soon. A few weeks later, poor Lexi began scratching herself too much. The vet said that the cancer had progressed enough, and we agreed that it was time to let her go. We took her home so that my brother could say goodbye, and were going to take her back to the vet that evening.

That afternoon, holding her in my arms and knowing she only had hours left, knowing she had no idea what was going to happen, and knowing that there was no way to tell her how much I loved her... the most painful day of my life so far. I painted her a beautiful little rock to keep her company as she now rests in our front yard by the grass she so loved to eat. 

Now, I'm heading back to college in less than two weeks—I decided to stay in the dorms to focus on my academics, the decision made before all this happened. It turns out, since I was the primary caretaker of the guinea pigs but I will be leaving, that we will be giving Glass away. Please don't suggest any solutions to keep her... I've thought of them all and none of them will work. This is not about finding solutions, but about accepting what I know, what I'm dreading is going to happen soon.

I've known about it for a month or so, but today I made a trip to campus to drop some stuff off before move-in, and it really just hit me. I've never experienced losing a pet suddenly, but I feel like losing a pet slowly is hard in its own way. It's the anticipation, knowing that your time with them is limited, rapidly running out, not in a vague abstract way but in a hard deadline way. I hold Glass every day and tell her I love her, but I can't believe that in just a few weeks she'll be gone and I'll never see her again. And I know my parents are right to find her a new home—they just couldn't love her like she deserves—but I'm so angry at everything: COVID, college, me, them... etc etc etc.

It just kills me knowing that, on top of losing Lexi, now I have to lose Glass. And the knowing and the waiting is just twisting the knife in deeper. I'm trying to cherish the time I have left with Glass, but now it just hurts. All the grief I have for Lexi is coming back, and it's just hurt on top of hurt. Oh G-d, it hurts so much. And I can't make her understand what is going to happen, and how even though I'll soon be gone, I love her so much. And it hurts even more because they're only two-ish years old. We were supposed to have six more years with them, but poor Lexi... and then just my parents and brother are giving up. And I know they're not giving up, I know this is the right decision, but I still feel that way and it's overwhelming.

Anyway, I'm going to schedule a counseling appointment through my college, and I read a few articles on managing grief (and loss of a pet), which is why I'm here. But the thing that scares me is even though you can manage and accept your pain, it never really goes away. This is going to stay with me for the rest of my life, and I'm just so scared, and I'm just so tired of being sad. I don't want to repress my emotions, but I just can't feel like this anymore. I don't know what to do with all of this emotion inside of me.

I think this experience really helped me understand that the world is a fundamentally broken and flawed place. People are broken and sinful, and this has helped me experience the extent of common grace in maintaining the world that we know. Not everyone, but people like me have lived their lives without really experiencing the terribleness of the world—death, famine, violence. To have a taste of that, such a little taste, and to have that taste be utterly debilitating... it really puts things in perspective. And it's awful, and I hate it so much, but it has helped me understand the good G-d has done for this world, and how much of what we take for granted is his grace extended to us. 

I felt cliched saying "everything will be okay," but I've never realized how hopeful it is to discover that it actually will be. In some way, I had to experience loss to truly understand the magnitude of fixing that will be done on this world, and that Jesus has done for us. And I don't know if animals go to heaven, but in whatever way matters, little Lexi has served her maker in the way she knows best, and now in some meaningful way, she is with him, if only that means that her atoms have returned to the earth. He keeps his faith with those who sleep in the dust. And Glass will find a family that will love her so much, and I can rest easy knowing that I've loved her as much as I could with the time I've been given with her.

And even despite all of that, my increased understanding, this rationalization, the pain. It's still there. It'll always be there. I just hope that eventually I can find peace with it and healing in G-d.

Thanks for listening, guys. I hope that this helps me, and I hope that it helps others. Shalom.
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