Some friends and family members may have heard that we had to say goodbye to Archie the guinea pig this week. Her surgery revealed an inoperable malignant tumor and we hoped to support her recovery while entering palliative care. But as the sedation wore off, it was clear that she was not herself, and prolonging her life just to avoid having to say goodbye was not the answer. We gathered together with Archie and Ivy on Wednesday night to hold her one last time as she slipped away.
It's been a rough few days in our home, where our routine no longer includes our little pumpkin companion. We remember when we accidentally get food for two instead of one, when we watch TV and we only have one furry friend for two laps, when Ivy does something sassy and I call her Archie, when Ivy returns to their house and looks for Archie out of habit, and when the morning is quiet and her little squeaks for breakfast are absent. She was part of our life and our family for four years, and although we knew she was sick, it's still hard to prepare.
As the days pass, I don't want to get used to her absence, because it means I accept it and I am moving on, but I feel myself adjusting anyway. I know that time slowly fills the negative space with the good memories.
While going through pictures, I tried to choose just 10 that really captured her warmth and personality, and our deep friendship. But the more I looked the more I appreciated the volume of small moments we captured with her, which together tell the story of our time together. So instead I assembled 10 collages.
We miss Archie so much. She was my emotional support when I lost my grandparents, while I prepared myself to move on after a five-year relationship, and as I dealt with stress and anxiety. She licked the tears from my face as I cradled her and worried about her surgery. She made us laugh and she was so smart. We each had our own language with her and she made us feel safe, even when the world didn't feel safe around us. She was a small, humble creature and some may not understand her impact on us, but she was our friend, our family, and our joy. We will try to hold that, even now that she's gone. We love you, Arch McGarch
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based in Mansfield, MA.