I was a pretty proficient funeral director as a child. The small mammals of our house were always laid to rest with soft tissues lining their checkbook box caskets. I wept over them, sang my dirges, and laid flowers over their backyard graves. I’d visit their plots, I’d agonize over them being in the cold, dark earth, all alone.
All of my love had nowhere to go, no furry heart to land on. There was Murphy the Gerbil, Lougee the Mouse, and Blueberry the Hamster, plus a neighborhood bird with a broken wing. If love could cure, they’d have lived forever.
I’ve read a new book, “Piggy In Heaven” by Melinda Johnson which gently and joyfully tells of a beloved guinea pig’s first day in Heaven. He rolls in the grass, munches, and hops about, sans cage, and his new pig friends gradually reveal where he is and why. When they’ve ever so tenderly explained to him that he died he responds, “I didn’t know that was going to happen!” Isn’t that just the bewilderment that children experience when their pet dies? How I wish I’d had this book as a grieving child! It would have revealed to me that God too loves his creatures; that I was not alone in my love, nor my grief; that the end of earthly life means a beginning of eternal life.
What is perhaps most beautiful to me personally is the reminder that love is never wasted. We do not need to hold back our fullest and deepest love in order that we might be less vulnerable to eventual losses. We can live full-heartedly, and hope in God’s wonderful mercy that the ones we love might just be waiting for us on the other side.
So, if the little ones in your life are mourning the loss of a pet, consider this beautiful, hope-filled book, and if you’re crafty I’ve included a pattern I made with the help of my dear friend Kristina Wenger (Plush-Maker Extraordinaire!) for making a stuffed Piggy to go with it!
- minky fabric, 1/4 yard in the color you like (you can make several piggies with this!)
- a small bit of felt, I chose light brown
- pink embroidery thread or a stuffed animal nose or button
- black beads or stuffed animal eyes on posts
- needle and heavyweight thread
- Piggy Pattern printed (say that five times fast!)
To make, trace out the pattern pieces on minky fabric, or any other furry material that delights you, being aware that the fluffier it is, the harder it will be make the eyes and nose findable! Make sure you flip the body pattern piece when you cut the second one so that you have the fur right side out on both sides.
I recommend cutting out the furry parts outside as you will indeed be covered in foof, and the pieces can be shook out to disperse the fluff out of doors rather than on your floors. Also, you will now look like you’ve taken up another job at a pet grooming shop.
Cut out the ears from felt and pinch together and hand stitch to make a curved shape.
Clip open the ear slot and either machine or hand stitch the ear in place. If using stuffed animal eyes, insert them now too. If using beads as eyes you’ll attach them later.
Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew one side to the tummy panel (right sides facing) beginning and ending at the dots A and B on the pattern. Sew the opposite side to the tummy panel as well. Sew shut the back, leaving a 1.5″ gap for turning it right side out. Double check all seams to make sure there are no holes.
It may be tricky to work the presser foot around the eye posts, so hand sewing that area may be necessary
Turn right side out and if using a post nose, snip a tiny hole at the front and insert and secure from inside the piggy.
Stuff with desired fiber fill, hand stitch the hole shut. For beaded eyes use heavy thread, doubled, and a long needle. Position the needle and pull the thread through the face to the other side making sure the eyes will be even. Add a bead and plunge back through, adding the other bead, and go back and forth until the eyes are quite secure. Pull the thread slightly so that the eyes sink inward, forming the face shape guinea pig style. Double knot and snip threads close to the surface. The same looping-pull is done if you used eye posts to give it a nice shape. If you didn’t add a nose yet, use embroidery thread to add a pink triangle nose.
Have the eyes disappeared on you? Time for fur-scaping! Using sharp, small scissors trim away the surrounding fluff so that the eyes stand a chance of peering out at the world.
You are done! Snuggle at will.