Friday, August 24, 2012
The Day My Heart Broke Wide Open
Well, the two little raccoons didn't make it. About a week ago, a storm blew in that included hail and a torrential downpour. The next day, it was looking like Mama had not returned. By the second morning, one was very near death - I found him on the path to the garden - the other was still hanging in there. I thought about just letting them go, let nature take its course, and then I realized I simply could not let them die without intervening on their behalf, without doing all I could for them. For someone who has said she's absolutely not afraid of dying, a small raccoon's death was suddenly unacceptable.
The local vet gave me the number of a wildlife rehab center only one hour from home. With instructions I'd already received from the internet, along with their information which reiterated it, I packed them up and brought them there. A white, fuzzy sweater I'd donated to Buddy when he first came home with me went into the box with them, along with straw and a water bottle filled with warm water. I tucked the sweater over the one that was almost gone and his sibling got the other end, who then immediately began making sucking sounds, believing Mama had returned after all. I don't mind being involved in that kind of subterfuge. Hope occasionally requires it.
But, it didn't end well. These things rarely do. And I was unexpectedly and inexplicably heartbroken. Heart broken. I could not stop sobbing. I like to believe my place is a sanctuary for wildlife, a place of refuge for all the little wild things, and this did not go according to plan. Sometimes, nature sucks. A lot.
However, I was not left alone in my grief. A friend and fellow blogger unknowingly, well, from a human perspective, offered a much-needed message through a poem he posted when I was in the depths of despair. I know, it sounds disproportionate when phrased that way towards two little raccoons. But, that's what it was. The depths of despair. You see, it was the day my heart broke wide open to the world.
Here's the poem he posted:
Here is a story to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter the loons came to our harbor and died,
one by one, of nothing we could see.
A friend told me of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one just where that is.
The next morning, this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.
~ Mary Oliver
Isn't that beautiful? And isn't it a wonderful universe?
Here is where I found the poem that day:coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com
The loon is Minnesota's state bird.