Beau is going away to camp tomorrow and I've had lots and lots of little last minute errands to do for him. I was taking him to get his hair cut, we were driving down this street near our home, and this fluffy little golden brown squirrel dashed out in front of the car. This happens pretty often in our neighborhood and I have always managed to slow down in time or swerve out of the way, but not this time. He came from the opposite side of the street and just suddenly ran out right in front of me. I swerved around and to the left to avoid him, nearly missing him, but he made it across safely, and I was so relieved. But then when I steered my car back towards my side of the street he panicked and suddenly turned around and raced right back towards me. But I thought I had missed him. I looked at Beau and said, "Honey, will you look back and just make sure he got away safely," and Beau said, "Mom! You hit him." Oh, the feeling of that moment, the shock of it. I turned around and could see him laying in the street with his tail twitching. It was horrible.
I made a U-turn in the middle of the next block and turned the car right around. We drove up beside him. He was laying in the street on his side and he wasn't moving. I picked him up and he was just limp, still warm but completely limp. One eye was closed but his other eye was completely bugged out. I thought maybe I felt his heart beating so I cradled him against my chest and jumped into the car with Beau screaming, "Mom, don't bring him in the car. I don't want to see him." I said, "What do you want me to do Beau, leave him there to die so you won't have to see him?" I held him against my with one hand and steered with the other and drove as fast as I could safely drive to the vet, but I knew he wasn't going to make it. I rubbed him, petted him, kissed his head, and even thought of trying to give him mouth to mouth but that seemed a little too risky.
I parked in the red in front of the vet hospital that is the only one in the area that specializes in small unusual animals, and with tears pouring down my face I ran up the stairs and called out for help. The gal at the desk told me to follow her and we ran back to their operating rooms where a kind woman took him from me and took him into another room where a vet who was operating looked at him and after a minute shook his head. I just started crying so hard. Everyone was so kind to me but I kept thinking, "I'm the bad guy. I killed this little innocent squirrel, it's so wrong, I don't deserve this kindness, it's just wrong." Then for the rest of the day I was just out of it, so out of it that when we went to lunch I actually forgot to turn off the engine and take my keys out of the car. I must have been in a daze to just get out of my car and leave it like that. I was so shocked when after looking everywhere for the keys I found them in the ignition with the engine running. Oh well.
You have to understand how much I love these squirrels, for so long I've felt that it's my self-appointed job to stop and check on the squirrels who have been hit. If they're alive, and they rarely are, I take them to the vet and then bring them home and nurse them back to health. But most of the time I just wind up picking them up and moving them off the road. It seems like the smallest kindness, like the least I can do for these sweet little creatures, to spare them the indignity of being run over and over by more cars.
I held it together in front of Beau as much as possible. I talked him through the spiritual aspects of our experience, tried to make things easier and better for him, but inside I was so torn and sad about it. He was such a beautiful creature, his delicate little head, the ticked color of his fur, that gorgeous tale, his little paws, his belly. It seemed so unreal that he was dead, there was life there as I held him, I felt his heart beating, and he was warm as I cuddled him against me. Why did he have to die and why did I have to be the big stupid human to take his little life? I even thought about his squirrel mother and what she'd had to go through to give birth to him, to nurse him and protect him, just to have it end like that, with me. It sucks.
I cheered myself up a bit by going over to my friend Atra's and they were all so kind. Arta reminded me of how many other horrible things there are that are going on in the world, like those little children who were killed in yesterday's bombing, and even though this kind of thing would ordinarily make me feel worse, it helped to be able to tell him that I do care about everything, I care too much, but since this experience was so personal and so visceral it had more meaning for me, and he understood.
Scott even suggested I take a few extra granules of Effexor tonight because he saw how down I was, but that's just not in the plan. After everything I've been through to just get back down to this dose, I don't want to mess things up again. As overemotional and overly sensitive as I may be, I'd rather just sit with my feelings, intense though they may be. I can handle this...
You wanna know something weird? It was helpful in some way to be able to hold him and love him and not mind his being dead while I held him. I think it helped Beau too because even though he was initially afraid to be near him, he could see by my example that death, while it may be sad, isn't something to be afraid of. I imagine there are plenty of people who will read this and think I'm out of my fucking mind, but that's okay, I think being sensitive and caring is a gift. I just wish I could rewind this day, go back and take a different path to spare his life, even though I know I'm not supposed to because every little thing that happens is all part of the big picture puzzle that makes up living.