The Memory of Society, the Guinea Pig

When COVID-19 forced a shelter-in-place, I was stuck indoors with my roommate.  She was relatively low-maintenance, didn’t take up too much space, and best of all, was incapable of getting COVID.  For three months she was always a few feet away as I navigated through this newly stressful life that constantly felt like the world was at risk of implosion.  Whenever I spoke aloud, she stared at me straight in my face and listened attentively even though she probably didn’t understand English.  Naturally, living in close quarters with a roommate for those COVID quarantine months and the years that followed would result in a close bond, and that’s exactly what happened with my roommate named Society. 

I impulsively bought my guinea pig, Society, on a random trip to the pet shop and I knew that she was perfect for my home because she was the best-behaved with the most personality.  When I accidentally left her cage open overnight, she stayed in the cage until the morning instead of using the eight hours to break free and go exploring.  When I looked at her through the open cage door, she stared at me with a disapproving look, as if she was saying “do better!!” She was right.

Sometimes she annoyed me with her high standards that she refused to lower.  If I got her the wrong kind of Spring mix, escarole, red peppers or carrots, she refused to eat it and made random guinea pig chattering noises, which ranged from a midrange “wheekwheekwheek” noise to a low-toned grumbling. She demanded high standards and I knew that I had to meet them to avoid one of her typical “do better” stares.

I believe that things come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, but unfortunately guinea pigs can’t live forever.  After a wonderful four years of life, Society passed away three weeks ago. In retrospect, I realized that this well-behaved, supportive guinea pig came into my life during an important season for even more important reasons. Throughout her life, I dealt with many life changes, including trying to buy a house, moving into a new place, starting and running businesses, becoming an uncle, and many other things that made me feel like giving up. Many times as I felt like I was out of options, I would pull-up a chair to the guinea pig cage and talk to Society as if she was a human that was capable of providing insight. Each time I finished my monologue about how things are tough, she would chatter some noises and stare at me in a disapproving yet motivating way of conveying two words that consistently held the solution: “do better.” 

Now that Society has moved-on to guinea pig heaven, I look at this as God’s way of saying that I’m ready to handle future challenges without needing a reassuring stare from a guinea pig with an interesting name.  Her mission on earth has been accomplished and now she can party hard with my brother’s guinea pigs Tommy, Sylvester, and Groffy.

I’ll continue to do better.