Today after coming home and starting dinner Nels runs in and excitedly reports Josie-kitty has a bat. Or a bird. “Or a moth,” my son adds after some consideration. “It’s shaggy,” he tells me. By the way his missing teeth means he has the best voice, and lisp, ever. “Moth” is “moff”. He has the most kissable little mouth and cheeks.
A minute later my feelings of fondness for my son evaporate as Josie is at the back door, desiring to come inside with her prize. Despite the limpness of the “shaggy” little finch in her mouth, wet and broken from the cat’s predation, to my horror I discover it is alive but very badly injured. The cat darts to and fro and clearly wants me to take her kill. I pick up the bird, who is barely moving and only giving a faint gasp now and then, and hold it under water in my sink to drown it. The pulse of the creature lasts a surprising time but it has nothing in itself to struggle. The kids watch intently and Phoenix says, “Mom, you’re crying.” Then: the creature is quiet in my hands. Faint as the gasp was, when life leaves it is obvious. I remember this vividly from watching my father die.
I feel worse about this than makes sense. Only a few seconds after death I think maybe I did the wrong thing. Maybe I should’ve ignored the cat’s attempts inside and let the whole mess take place how it would. Maybe I should’ve taken the bird away and put it somewhere in a darkened shoebox to languish. I did what seemed most merciful at the moment but it didn’t feel good to commit murder.
A few minutes later the kids and I walk the delicate limp creature, wrapped in cotton – and we bury it in the muddy earth. We come inside and make an offering and have a moment of meditation and say a few words. The kids move on. I mostly have, too. Mostly.
I’m also feeling a bit sensitive as for the second time in the last week I talked with a young man in my volunteer work, an alcoholic and an addict. I meet new people in this avocation every week and it’s good work. But sometimes.
You know drugs and alcohol don’t ruin lives. Yes, the disease of addiction causes much suffering. But the lives in the rooms of Recovery aren’t “ruined”. No life is ruined. Even death has its place, although it is very sad to watch a manifestation as beautiful as a human being kill itself. There are so many, many ways to kill ourselves, and some people walk around doing it while they still have a pulse. We kill off ourselves with our Ego, with our addiction. It is breathtaking how many ways there are to do this. All of us are doing it all the time. I am mostly okay with all that – meaning I accept it as an aspect of reality.
But every now and then I run into someone who makes me hurt and I’ve not yet figured out how or why. I know with regards to this young man, although I am not quite old enough to be his mother, it is partly a maternal thing. He is a very beautiful young man, many tattoos, soulful eyes and the most precise manners, the most consideration and kindness. Maybe it’s because I’ve met young men like him before and it’s the sameness. Maybe because I anguish about all those Lost for so long. Why isn’t anyone there for them?
I don’t know why things hurt today, but they did. Really despite pain, I had a wonderful day though. I did my early housework with a great deal of contentment and joy. Then the kids and I were up and about, and they sat through half the meeting at the Treatment Center (usually they don’t, but they were rained out fo the park at first). After their park play we re-met and the three of us had a lovely lunch date. Later in the evening Ralph and I got to work on the house and the kids came in and out. Phoenix had gymnastics class and Nels’ BFF came over for him. It’s almost ten now, and we’re having a late dinner and movie night. Tomorrow I hope to get up to some of the last sewing I’ll be doing in this house. Unlike other times I’ve moved, I’ve felt a fondness and a serenity for the house we’re in these last few days, although I am very much looking forward to our move.
Life is good.