I grew up in the country. By living amongst all kinds of creatures, I am glad to have received a natural education on the life and death of all living things.
My children have also had the opportunity to learn this not only by caring for pets, but also by the creatures that inhabit our world in the city.
This summer, my son found a baby squirrel laying on his tree fort, so my daughter took steps to try to reunite the baby with his mother.
To keep him hydrated, she gave him droppers of saline water. To keep him warm, she wrapped him in some towels. And to bring the mother near, she held him upside down by his tail to make him squeek. But the mother never came. With continued care, a couple days later the baby was still alive, but his brother dropped from the nest, dead. We realized then that something must have happened to the mother. The baby my daughter had cared for died soon thereafter.
He was so tiny and velvety and alive. It was magical. I was sad when he died, but the farm-girl me accepted his death with little grief.
And this morning after I let my dogs out into the cold icy/snowy back yard, I was surprised that my dachshund was not waiting at the door to come in like usual. When she did come to the door, she was carrying a full size squirrel, still barely alive, in her mouth. I have never seen her so happy. She has waited at the base of trees, gazing upwards, hours upon hours in hopes of catching a squirrel. Finally she had one in her mouth. I let her in (minus the squirrel) with a “Good Dog!” The little doggy pride was bursting from the tip of her tail, but my heart was not in it. Instead my hand cupped as if holding the baby squirrel. I cannot forget such a beautiful sensation. Maybe today I will grieve.