Teeth Marks

A week or so ago I stopped by to see my friend, Honey.  It wasn’t out of my way, seeing as how Honey lives in a large cage in our family room.  She just so happens to belong haired guinea pig that belongs – so I’m told – to my grandson.

I don’t really speak Honey’s language.  It sounds to me like little more than a squeak-squeak here and a squeak-squeak there.  When I talk to her I try to speak a little softer than normal, afraid my voice might roar like thunder in her tiny ears.  Nonetheless, we look at other each eye-to-eye and share.  We understand each other.

I compliment her on her hair and ask if the boys have been taking good care of her.  Her cheerful demeanor and the lack of any offensive odors rising from her home answer that question for the most part.  Her round, bulging brown eyes add that she gets lonely sometimes, but for the most part life is good.  She thanks me for stopping by to get her out of the house for a bit.

We laugh together at the way she plays hard to get.  Knowing she can’t wait for my grandson to pick her up and play a while, when he first reaches into her cage she runs as fast as she can around and around.  She ducks behind her igloo for a second then darts back out again, screeching, “Catch me if you can!”

Finally she lets him grab hold and lift her gently out. She knows when she’s pushing him too far, and dares not let his frustration send him away.

Yep, Honey and I have become good friends. We visit most often when no one else is home.  It’s our quiet time.  My stop-over on that day was no different.

There we were, having a nice conversation as she rested in my hand, her little body stretched out on my arm.  I brought along some leaf lettuce, one of her favorite treats, so I was doing most of the talking that day.  She gave me her undivided attention though. She watched me intently as I spoke and gave me a high pitched response now and then as she reached out for her next bite and chewed like there was no tomorrow.

Once the lettuce was gone, she talked a little more as I smoothed her white hair down her back and scratched the brown patches behind her ears.  It was a nice visit, to say the least; two friends having a marvelously relaxing time together.

Then it happened.  Honey bit me!  She bit my finger and she bit down hard, as though driving her tiny teeth through a strip of rawhide.  She was likely well aware of how needle sharp her teeth are, but until that moment I had no idea.

I snatched my hand away in shock.  “Honey, what was that for?” I shouted at her as I quickly put – or should I say dropped – her back in her cage.  “That really hurt! What on earth possessed you?”

“What in the world?” I could not believe it when I looked at my finger.  Just behind the knuckle of my forefinger I saw blood.

Well, that may not mean much to you, but I just don’t bleed.  Every time I have to have blood drawn the technicians cringe, and on more than one occasion have called for help. Drawing my blood is like trying to siphon gas from a car with a straw.  My veins are tiny and hard to find, and the flow has been known to stop before the syringes are full.  Yet, there was blood forming a tiny puddle on my finger.  I thought for a minute I might actually need a Band-Aid.

I washed the blood away with a little water, dabbed the spot with a tissue, and then saw two tiny perfectly round holes in my flesh barely a quarter inch apart.  Looked like I had been attacked by a vampire action figure.  And in that minuscule spot between the two holes, my finger had that quickly swollen. A little mound had formed and colored itself red from the inside out.

“It’s okay, Honey,” feeling remorse for my reaction, “I don’t understand why you did it, but I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.

Didn’t understand was an understatement.  I was actually wondering what in that bee-bee sized brain of hers made her think it was necessary or even okay to bite my finger.  She had accidentally nipped us in the past when reaching for a bite of carrot or other treat in our hands, but she had never, ever just bit down hard or when no food was near.  She had certainly never drawn blood.  What was she thinking?

As I pondered my own question, I realized she would never intentionally hurt me. Yet, that one little bite did hurt.  It hurt a lot.  How could it cause so much pain?

You realize, I’m sure, this story is not just to warn you about the perils of raising a guinea pig.  It’s not really even about being careful who you befriend, although that is a good thing to do.  It’s about those who are our friends. Our good friends. Our true friends that we laugh with, cry with, share our dreams with and confide in.   It’s about those friends we push to succeed while feeling their hand on the small of our back doing the same for us.

And how we sometimes hurt each other. We don’t mean to.  But sometimes we do.  We allow stress, fatigue, poor health, heartbreak, fear, and other such emotions dominate us and before someone can toss us a Snickers Bar, we’re lashing out against the very ones we count on to stay close by.

The tiny, even accidental nicks from someone we love seem to cause far more pain than a deliberate slash from someone we don’t know or whom we care little about.  The best solution is to just not hurt one another at all.  To think before we speak and recognize the influence our emotions are having over us at the moment.  You know… the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure thing.

But when we do, let’s be quick to forgive and help one another get back on track.

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34

Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely.  2 Corinthians 2:7 (GNT)

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1, 2

Ten days ago and one of the holes is still there.  The bleeding stopped almost immediately, and the pain lasted but a few days.  Still, I can see and feel one scabbed-over bite mark and see a tiny scar from the other.  Wounds do take time to heal.  But it’s so very important that we let the healing come.

I didn’t stop my visits with Honey because of what she did.  I admit, I was a little cautious at first, but I know her.  I love her, she loves me.  Hurting one another is not part of the plan, but if it happens – forgiveness is.

June Yates-Boykin

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