Yesterday, I went to a fun football party. Not fun because of football, which I don’t understand nor have any desire to watch, but because it was with lots of old high school friends and included jello shots and Triscuits, my favorite things ever.
On the way home, the Goose was driving (as usual as it would threaten his masculinity otherwise) and I yelled “Stop! There’s a good one!” and we pulled over to bag up a juicy piece of roadkill.
Uh huh, roadkill. This is all because I had a black vulture waiting in the barn for me at home.
I don’t accept birds. I know almost nothing about them. I work with small mammals and deer. The only thing I know about birds is that if someone finds small birds on the ground NOT to move them, they haven’t fallen from the nest, they are fledglings and their mom is somewhere nearby in a panic because some fool is messing with her babies.
Even knowing nothing, I took this bird because some super nice people called me after striking out with 11 other rehabbers. I caved in and told them to bring him over. He was beautiful. I’ll admit that some of the vulture’s manners are less than perfect, but they really are cool birds. I called the bird guru, The Pagan Raptor Goddess, but she wasn’t taking vultures. She is a wealth of info and I always want to give a shout out to her organization, Hawktalk.org.
This morning, after having my hand shredded by this glorious creature, I finally got him down to Chattahoochee Nature Center. The only good thing about the bloody injury on my part was that my son’s friend with diabetes jumped forward and gave me a quickie blood test, which came out a little low but he suggested it was a left over jello shot problem. Saved me a $35 annual physical copay.
The good folks at the nature center, who do great work with wildlife and are responsible for sending me Tortellini and Tiki, our emu, were happy to take him and I felt great when I left. On my way home, top down, radio up, sun shining, I got the call that his wing was shattered and he was being euthanized at that moment.
Now, I’ve grown a thick skin over my years of rehab. I’ve had to put down lots of animals and my poor Goose has helped me with even more. It’s horrible but necessary. Some stories, though, just get to me. What got to me is that I had spent the entire ride telling this magnificent bird to just hold on, help was close by.
Of course, I KNOW he didn’t understand, I get that a bird that can’t fly will mentally fall apart and I accept that this was the only option. It just caused a deep sadness.
I spent the rest of the ride listening to depressing music, being angry at the drivers ahead of me, regardless of my new kind thoughts toward others, and thinking back over the sad cases I’ve had. I once had a summer when a virus took 7 of my little fawns. Only one survived. The last one, the smallest, writhed and screamed in my arms for an hour until I finally had to concede he wouldn’t make it. He whimpered and wept like a baby and I cried along with him. After that summer, I took the next year off from animals.
I know the sad losses I’ve seen cannot compare with the sadness of others. My friend who held her son while he passed away, the family that lost their sweet little girl a few weeks ago, the Trophy Wife’s friend who lost her 16 year old son just yesterday to an accident, these tragedies are beyond my comprehension.
Mine are just little sadnesses that cause a heart to get harder and stronger, but sometimes, a little crack appears like today and I spend a half an hour or so being mad at God and not understanding why animals, who are wholly good, have to suffer.
I don’t have an answer or an upbeat ending except to think that all the years I’ve spend in church I’ve heard Jesus’ quote that “in my Father’s house there are many mansions”. I don’t want a mansion. What I’m desperately hoping for is a big beautiful barn where the souls of all the precious creatures that I’ve lost are finally safe, happy and whole.