I simply couldn't do it. In fact, I kinda "signed off" for a few days just to keep myself away from it all. It's too upsetting... too heartbreaking.
Yet here I am, dedicating a post to it. Why? Well, this'll sound kinda strange (in the "how the heck did you connect THIS to THAT sorta way), but my best friend, Mary, had to put her cat down Friday evening. Midnight, her trusty companion for the last 18 years, had finally succumbed to her age and a mass in her little tummy. Mary - completely torn up, guilt-stricken, and heartbroken - took her to a vet and stood by her side until the very end, gently offering this one, last gesture of love to her confidante, consoler and friend.
Knowing this kind of loss first-hand, I knew that nothing I did was gonna remove the knife now lodged squarely in her heart. At most, I could listen to her pour out her anguish. So I did. And in the midst of that soliloquy, she explained everything that had happened, her conflicting thoughts, her guilt, her love of Midnight, and her tremendous sense of loss. She then asked a question that struck me deeply - it made me rethink my decision to steer clear of this infanticide tragedy.
She asked "Why did I need to see her put down like that? I could've just let them take her, but I needed to see it myself. Is that morbid?"
I didn't answer, partly because she was already running another three sentences together, and partly because my mind was snapped back to just about a year ago.
Mary, my friend Hugh, and I were driving over to a party. As I turned onto a large highway, I came upon a badly injured goose in the middle of the road. He was obviously still alive, but very badly wounded. So I pulled off to the side and hurried back to move the poor goose out of the road so he wouldn't be injured again, and no one would cause an accident attempting to avoid him.
Upon moving this large, wild goose out of the street, I realized just how bad his injuries were. So I ran back to the car and pulled it into a parking lot, then ran back up the road to where Mary and Hugh both stood, huddled around the goose keeping watch, not sure what else to do. I sent out calls to the Humane Societies, but it was a weekend, and no one would be coming. I knew that, and the dispatchers who lied to me about their prompt response knew it, too.
So I crouched down with the goose and spoke to him. I prayed to God that He swiftly take this little creature so his pain would cease. I pet his feathers and remained with him as the tears burned my eyes. Hugh, suggested that I look away... that I not watch because it was too upsetting. I knew he was being mindful of the tender heart I carry towards animals. But I answered saying, "No. Me looking away isn't going to stop his death. It won't make it easier on the goose. But at least being here, keeping watch... at least we can share the burden of sadness so he's a little less scared."
Upon completion of that thought, I knew that was why Mary needed to be there... why she needed to see Midnight off. Of course watching life seep away is difficult (and truth be told, I have a lump the size of Texas in my throat right now as I think of Mary watching the "green drain away from Midnight's eyes"), but turning away is selfish. Opening your eyes to the reality of that passing is opening your heart to help "shoulder" the burden of that passing. That was why Mary's brother, sister, and father went, too. They went to help Mary shoulder the terrible burden of losing a friend who had been so constant a source of love and joy for the majority of her life. They each took part in Midnight's death, just as they took part in her life. And I have no doubt that Midnight's final moments were full of consolation at that realization. Family surrounded her. Gentle hands and tears of love were what lulled her into Heaven.
May we all be so blessed to have such tenderness at our own passing. May we all have family and friends strong enough and generous enough to help us shoulder those final moments. And may each of us be strong enough, generous enough, and loving enough to help others shoulder that burden as well.
So now I hope you understand why I'm willing to post about the infanticide case that's been rippling through the blogosphere. For me to look away... to ignore the horror... it is selfish and does nothing to help anyone. As one who can witness to the moral and psychological degradation of our society, it is my duty - my privilege - to speak out as a voice for this little one. It is my obligation to speak out in the hopes that my words, coupled with the collective outcry of others who have taken this road, effect the change that saves the lives of others in similar circumstances.
And with this realization... I'm off to pen my thoughts.