December 19, 2008
The Sunday Raccoon
It began with a knock on my door.
Usually the only people who ever knock are those who have ended up at the wrong address. So, I was surprised to hear the man outside my door explaining that he was my newest neighbor, and he just wanted me to know that I either had a dying or a pregnant raccoon balled up under the one small tree that occupies my front yard.
In broad daylight, in the wide open, the critter was loosely crimped into a half-moon, and looking sleepy. Cars, people, barking dogs, did not seem to bother this raccoon. The growing crowd agreed it probably weighed 25 - 30 pounds. It certainly was large enough to be very expectantly pregnant. After a while though, it became hard to tell if it was still breathing at all or if it had died.
Just then, lifting its head, the raccoon looked around, sweeping its surroundings, not really focusing. Semi-alert, it tried to rise and move away. Convulsions overtook it. Were those contractions or maybe a stroke? The back quarters were dragging, and then suddenly it was stranded on its back, struggling like a flipped turtle. A driver paused as he passed. “Looks like it’s been shot in the hind quarters," he said.
It was getting darker outside, but I could see the pain and confusion in the raccoon's dark expressive eyes. We both knew something wasn’t right. “I’m sorry I can’t help you," I said quietly. “Just relax, sweetie." After a few seconds, which seemed like an eternity to me, it finally relaxed. Did it give up, or its body just give out? It doesn’t matter, because what happened was remarkable.
The situation changed, its stiffened legs slowly, gracefully lowered. The momentum gently rolled it over on its side and into a better position to become upright. It lay there quietly, gathering the strength to stand. Finding it, it tottered a few feet toward my house. Rolled into a furry wad again, it rested. After a few minutes rest, determined to move on once again, the next obstacle became the drain pipe.
The poor animal couldn’t figure out how to get to the other side. Without the strength or balance to step over, and without the reasoning to walk around the end just a few inches away, it was stuck where it was. Tired, again. Balled up, again. Looking at me sadly, again. I wanted so badly to rush over and lift it over the barrier. I knew better, though. I’d scare it; I’d get hurt. I just kept talking in a calm voice, trying to convey caring and comfort. Don’t know if it worked on the raccoon, but it certainly wasn’t working on me. I had already taken in the stress of knowing where this was going to lead.
About half an hour passed, and the raccoon awoke. Sniffing for water by the drain spout, it wasn’t having much success finding a drink. But somehow as it realized where it was, it deduced that moving left would place it on the other side of the spout. Once it got there though, it looked back in confusion, not sure if it wanted to continue moving away from me. So, I spoke a little more and it seemed to be listening. “You’re very pretty," I said. “It’ll be ok," I said. “You should rest some more," I said, hoping to keep it within sight until the animal control folks arrived. “It really would be best. Just close your eyes." Tired of standing, unmoved by indecision, it sank to the ground once more. This time it seemed to pull itself in a little tighter.
A neighbor with a tote, and a neighbor with an affinity for animals, talked the wounded one into walking into a plastic tub. The tub set down over it, and to our surprised the creature took the situation calmly. Maybe because its own heat was now keeping it warm, maybe because it could no longer see any threats.
Eventually a patrolman showed up and determined it was time to put it down. The shot was brutal, echoing off the houses around mine. He had aimed for the head, and the raccoon had moved at the last second. The struggle inside the tub was noisy; crying and clawing. The end was painfully slow for both of us. And long enough for me to see some things a little better.
There’s no way that raccoon would have ever right itself while it continued to struggle. Letting go, almost giving up, is what gave it the temporary strength to stand. Why do I continue to struggle against letting go to GOD? Because I’m afraid I’ll get stuck in a tub with no way out. Oh, heck, I might as well admit, I’m already trapped. Family and friends are constantly telling me to breathe, relax, go with the flow, let go, and believe that things will get better.
Why can’t I give up the foolish notion that I am in control of anything, and relinquish attempted control of all? How do I know if giving up really means I have accepted that I am patiently waiting for GOD to move me, or if by giving up that becomes just giving up, and that’s it?
If I sound confused, it’s because I am.
But, I’m alright.
Ok, I’m not alright.
But, I’ll be fine.
I always am.
Posted by jaselin at December 19, 2008 01:19 PM