Today is one of those days where I am struck by the total randomness of life. Oh, I know there are going to be people who will insist that it is all planed and that everything has a reason and God puts obstacles in our lives so we can grow. The worst of the platitudes, I think, is that God is testing us. Sorry, I can’t buy any of that anymore. Shit happens. No good, no evil. Just shit happening all the time. If we are lucky, it’s good shit. If we aren’t, well, we have two choices…deal with it or not. This is life.
The past month has not been easy. Ups and downs like a roller coaster, one where you don’t know if it is finished at the end or you will go hurtling into space. Today, I got handed a cup of lousy shit.
I woke up to the sun with an unusual amount of pain (even for me) Cramps so bad last night that it tore muscles in my thigh and left bruises. But it was sunny and warm and It would be a lite day of Dr’s appointments and physical therapy. The canning was caught up and I thought maybe I could get some sewing done before tonight’s class. I was even running on time for a change. Then I looked for the deer to give them their morning bottle.
Three were outside the window and as the fourth came up I could see that it was dragging a badly broken leg. A deer hardly ever gets a minor break. Their beautiful delicate legs break in two. Only a flap of skin was holding it on. Not a vet, not a surgeon, not even the God people pray to, could fix it.
My heart dropped, my stomach rolled and I ran in to vomit. None of this helped the doe now lying under the forsythia bush. I needed to take action. I called my husband to see if he could put her down. After so much time close to these animals, I’m just not sure I could do it unless there was no other choice. He told me to go to my appointment and he would come home and take care of it.
I wanted to give her one last bottle, but Nosey has always been the shy one and she struggled to her feet. I was afraid that she would leave the yard and James wouldn’t be able to find her. she might suffer alone in the woods till some thing killed and ate her. I didn’t want it to end that way. I opened the gates and called the others for their bottles. Nosey came in the yard, but would not eat. She lay near the chicken coop and the others went to be with her. I said goodbye as best as one ever can and said a prayer for her next life.
She was still there when my husband came home shortly after. He dispatched her as gently as he could and buried her. I thought later that we should have taken her body to the woods and left it to feed other animals. It seems somehow disrespectful, to simply put her in the ground.
I went to my appointments and when I was alone in the car, it hit me. She had struggled to get back home to me. Even with the excruciating pain of her broken leg, she came HOME. She trusted me to fix her or free her from pain. So many of the animals that I have raised, have come home mortally injured or ill, just to die where they felt safe.
I had a goose once, who came as a baby with a broken wing. When it was grown, I drove it to a pond not far away, where I knew it would have open water and other geese for company. It lived there for two years until one day, I found it standing patiently by the gate. I let him in and he went to his favorite spot and settled down. I found it near its untouched food and water dish two days later. Its head was tucked under its wing like it was sleeping, but it wasn’t. It had died in the night. Did it know it was dying? Was that why it came home? I never saw any indication of illness when it came, yet it walked over a mile to get back home to die.
Home, that magical place where you live….and hope to die peacefully surrounded by what you love. If animals can indeed love, then there must be love for me, just as I have for them. This unnatural, cross species connection we have, somehow lasts. In whatever memory they possess, there is an indelible spot for me and for home.
As I cried in the car I thought, I can’t do this any more. It just hurts too bad. Someone else can take over and deal with all the blood and shit and death. I want out.
The rest of the day was not as sunny, or so it seemed to me. It passed in a cold fog and I functioned only as needed or expected. Then tonight, in the middle of Karate class, someone brought me a shoebox with a very tiny, very cold baby squirrel. I sat with it in my hands as it warmed and began to nuzzle and lick my thumbs. We made soft little squirrel sounds to each other and it fell asleep when I tucked it in my pocket.
It sucked down the warm milk when we got home and I wondered how this would end. I don’t care. It will end as it will end. It all begins with home and it grows with love and a chance for life and freedom in the wild. But always, there will be home and there will be someone to take away their pain. I’m not going anywhere….no matter what shit comes my way.