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All of Life is Change

Published on, 2013.



All of life is change.

This week our beloved guinea pig Bluebell died after a glorious last summer.

His many health issues included a kidney stone and overgrowing back teeth. For many months I squirted vitamin C and barberry into his mouth to dissolve the stone. And for weeks at a time I handfed him strips of vegetables at mealtimes, when his teeth couldn’t cope.

At the beginning of this saga I had to papoose Bluebell in a towel to stop him wriggling. By the end he lay back in my hand as relaxed as a furry Sufi, sucking in his vegies like a mini-mulching machine.

We had the communication down to a fine art. If I put a vegie strip in too fast, one little pink paw would ward it off. When he’d had enough, up came the pink paw. If I inserted the wrong piece, he spat it out. Later, after the teeth operation, I’d array enticing piles of broccoli, melon, cucumber and such in a semi-circle and he’d pick and choose. If I failed to put out the favoured delicacy of the day, he waited until I got it right. When he was finished, he turned his back pointedly on the remaining food.



Bluebell came from the police force. He was a mascot for the Intelligence Unit, but a new supervisor decided guinea pigs were not allowed, and so we adopted him. Bluebell came with his own police badge, a shocking hairstyle and a wheek like a siren. He pestered our other guinea pigs to distraction with his tireless excitement and perpetual bottom-bothering. His dreadlocks had to be removed so we could see which was his front end.

He’s the guinea pig who’s given me the most trouble. Haircuts, baths, lip medicine, large vet bills, constant worry over his skinniness. To help his teeth I even ordered a chinsling from Canada (handmade to size). It took a solid hour to put on the first time. Poor Bluebell with his helmet.

But this constant tending allowed the growth of intimacy. I knew his tiny body as well as my own. I could read his expressions and body language. I knew his tastes and moods.

Bluebell made us all laugh so much. He became a Facebook presence, with fans from far flung reaches. His whole-pig kidney stone x-ray caused a stir (at the vet’s, and online). He was loved by many children for his funny hair and his friendly ways. His cagemates adored him.

Little Spot now has no pig to play with in the rosemary tunnel. And I have no pig keeping me close company while I’m weeding.



Bluebell lies in a veil of blue and gold dragonflies. We planted him with all his favourite herbs from the garden he enjoyed so much. We’ve hung windchimes above his resting place for music, and a solar orb to scatter sparkles across his grave at night. He will grow through blue flowers into the light.

Part of me is missing, and I cry for him in the night. He visits me in dreams, running across green grass with his hair blowing in the wind behind him.

With his illnesses I knew his fragility. I also knew his strength.

All of life is change. It is a Buddhist tenet that I resist.

I think of Bluebell’s wordless but insistent request that I pick him up from where he’d snuggled long with Little Spot. His passionate nudges as he scrambled up to his favourite spot beneath my hair. I clasped him in both hands, the warm little body, as he panted and pressed himself fiercely close. After a minute, with a cough, he died in my hands. My heart nearly burst with love and pain.

It is a difficult blessing. But living with other sentient creatures takes me out of my humancentric world and into a world of presence. For this I am grateful. Their lives are so short and thus sharpen awareness. We witness a speeded up version of our own birth, life, and death. And then the cycle begins anew.

All of life is change. It is a truth to which I can sometimes surrender.

I learnt to live the moments with Bluebell. Now I am learning to let them go.