“He whose house is burning
Thinks all the world’s aglow;
His neighbor, eating dinner,
May never even know.
And when my heart was shattered
And in pieces on the ground,
I thought my world had ended;
You didn’t hear a sound.”
(Mary Jeans Terrell)
I sit here with a heavy, aching heart; crying tears for another sweet, furry soul who was forced to take his leave of this world far, far too soon. One small life ended by a deadly blow from a speeding vehicle; one beautiful body left laying shattered and still in the cold, wet street. Somewhere, maybe and more probably right in my own neighborhood, there is a person who continues to move through their day utterly clueless to the pain and suffering their thoughtless actions have caused; focused only on their own little self-centered world of wants and needs.
Perry came here perhaps a day after his birth; his luck having him fall from the tree while in seach of his mother late enough in the evening that his cries carried though the darkness to ears that heard with a kind heart and so went out with a flashlight to look for the source of the crying until he was found. His babyhood, indeed his whole time here with us as he grew up, was unremarkable in the remarkable way a fox squirrel enjoys its life when provided what it needs to grow up healthy and strong. Always a bit of a clown, Perry was a patient brother to three foster sisters and after their release he took up residence in the rafters of our shed and the nest boxes in the trees, living there for well over his first year of freedom. And being so close he was, of course, a fixture at the feeder and would toodle up to greet us happily, accepting all handouts graciously. Only once was he ever obnoxious; one day he decided that Bob’s shoelace would be a good addition to his nest so he spend a good ten or fifteen minutes tugging at it in a vain attempt to free it for his taking.
During this fall’s shuffle, that frantic period when squirrels look to claim a sturdy, secure long-winter nesting site, Perry finally moved away and only occasionally did we spot him in the yard. It was a little sad but he remained in good weight and condition; his only real mishap was breaking what we would call our ring finger on his right front paw. It healed but he never regained control over it so when he sat to eat it always stuck out; making an easy and obvious way to identify him.
It was that same broken toe that told me the lifeless body brought in from the street was our precious once-charge and friend. Perry had apparently been heading home to his nest but instead ended up coming home in a body bag.
There is small comfort in the fact that he was able to experience the freedom found in living wild, no matter how short or long that time might be. To be given a second chance to fulfill the destiny of his nature is the gift for which wildlife rehabilitators strive. But this is countered by an ending that cannot be seen in any way as righteous or even fair; no wild animal deserves to have its life snuffed out with such selfish mindlessness.
And so it is my tears continue to fall. And so it is that as hard as it is for me to write about this kind of thing, I believe that every life counts – whether we are aware of them or not. And I believe that no life should go unacknowledged; particularly when they have shared their love with you.
Godspeed, Perry. I know you have brought great joy with you to Heaven.