My work and research lost one of its great supporters not long ago. Those of you who are also on my FB friends list are already aware of this fact. This is another one of those posts I am loathe to write, but do anyways. It involves emotions I tend to be very private about, experiences that are still tender to explore, let alone discuss.
My furry partner-in-crime, Hippolyta Pig, died in her sleep March 9. I’ve been having to substitute since and have been unable to write these words. I’m on Spring Break currently, though, with a full week of Viking Coloring Book Project tasks lined up after I post this. Enough on that for now.
Listen close, Reader, for the song of Hippolyta Pig, fearless friend and champion of this introverted medievalist.
She began her life with me as a rescue. My husband and I had needed a friend for our guinea pig, Knuckles, after the death of my beloved but elderly Harley. Harley was the first piggie Jerry and I had while living abroad in the UK and I had been devastated when she passed. Knuckles was introduced to three pigs at the rescue- two adults and a little brown one who sneezed. The little one ran up Jerry’s jacket sleeve, determined to be with us, so we brought her home.
She was given an “H” comic related name in honor of Harley and became Hippolyta after Wonder Woman’s Amazonian mother. That first night she fell asleep on a pillow on my lap.
That first week she eerily began doing things that Harley had- drinking my tea while I worked on the floor at home, sitting on my shoulder in my sweatshirt hood to watch the world, sitting with Knuckles. She taught herself to climb the stairs of our flat, waking us up by galloping under the bed after she’s been with us only 3 days. The next night she taught Knuckles to do the same. She loved being free range downstairs and the two would do inspection tours, with returns to the cage for bathroom breaks.
Sometimes when you get a rescue animal for a pet they rescue you more than you did them. After 2010 I found it very difficult to be social outside of school and work at all [a few panic attacks keeps one wary when you are trying to present a front of competency to the world]. I took inspiration from the fact that she had no fear in spite of her size. Hippie allowed insatiable curiosity to dictate her actions, something I had tried to do myself by attending graduate school in a foreign country. When Jerry and I came home both pigs flew after, thanks to help from my parents. We all lived in a tent for a few months to get on our feet again. The final day of that process proved harrowing, leaving Hippie alone without a pig friend.
Boudikka came from a shop as we did not have a rescue nearby. Hippie focused on training her and, when Jerry saw a tiny piggie on Craigslist similar to Harley, on raising Kaliyuga. She trained them all in exploring, manners, stairs and tea drinking. When an older lion-head rabbit came to us she trained him too, learning bunny manners herself in the process.
Hippie knew where a camera was and looked at you directly when you spoke with her. It was a photo response of her to a tweet about pets which put me in contact with the media I later received help from in promoting both my first book and the Kickstarter campaign for the Viking Coloring Book. The original post is a few years back on that now but can be found on this site.
She sat on my desk in her sleep sack watching the creation of the VCB motifs, the editing of my first book, the prep for the verbal defense of my thesis, the last of the writing up of my doctoral research. If I chose a pen she did not like she chittered at me with narrowed eyes until I got one apparently better. Later on she became more vocal and learned to apparently tell time. She would wake me up 10 minutes before our alarm was set for, no matter what time I set it for. Unless we told her specifically she did not need to wake us up she did it without fail.
Hippolyta Pig wanted to be held early March 9th, something she particularly like when she wasn’t feeling well. She curled up under my chin as she always had, stealing body warmth and microfleece blanket. And that was it, a bright candle in the world finally extinguished.
Freyja hold you safe at Folksang until our paths cross again, valiant little one.