A larger animal waits for a smaller one to die
Hit right in the feels, this post. Feel I need to reread War and Peace.
It’s a beautiful piece. As much as I understand that death is natural it always feels like a terrible cosmic mistake.
My thought about the rabbit’s gaze heavenward was that it was terrified of a hawk finding it helpless. I feel like prey animals live in near constant panic. Hell, I do and I objectively have nothing to fear from any predator.
"I’m free to contradict myself, regardless of it makes sense."
This reminds me of a headline in the Danish intellectual-left-wing newspaper Information, back in the days: "I am enough of a dialectician to contradict myself" (Jeg er dialektiker nok til at modsige mig selv)
I'm not crying you're crying.
I loved the figure of the sky moving above. My rabbit story: At the very beginning of the pandemic my neighbor came over, desperate for help. There had been a cold rain, and a rabbit had tried to go through on of the squares in a chain link fence. It was stuck there, back and front halves of it dangling on either side. Not fluffy, it was soaked.
We were in the days when you didn’t know if you should be within 10 feet of friends, so we were flirting with danger just by interacting. But something had to be done, right? I pulled the rabbit out of the fencing. It was breathing but limp. There was no question of bringing a possibly sick wild animal inside either of our homes. So I wrapped it lightly in a towel and set it in a sheltered niche under another neighbor’s juniper hedge. It would recover or its light would go out, best we could do. It was about a year before we entered our neighbor’s yard again. No bunny, no bones. Maybe a fox got it. Just another in the quadrillions of deaths leading up to our time.
Dude. Just about two weeks ago, our own bun died (albeit not due to a predator, even though we live in a home with 5 cats). Then last week we ended up adopting another one who is already at the 7+ year mark of a 7-10 year lifespan. So, you know. This really hit home.
My lord, how beautiful, Erik.
When my own son was four, I had him look at a squirrel's body, on the side of the road -- and then look again a few days later, and again, and again, till it was bones, and then all dirt. I told him it was beautiful how bodies become other bodies again -- the trees, and grass, and flowers, and so on -- but all I could think about, really, was the thought of him dying one day, and of him experiencing the nonstop rush of losses that human life is. The circle of life stuff is beautiful, but also BS. I want to be alive with my son forever. I want us to be alive together forever with the birds of the sky, and also the bunnies of the field...
I walk to work and back, every day. It's about 8 km altogether, right through the heart of Berlin. I get to know my neighbours, my hood, the mood of the city, and nature in it.
One day, I saw several young girls standing close to each other. There was a man and he had an owl in his hand. It's wing was broken, and the girls had seen how it moved, and how some ravens were already closing in. What could we do? We decided to bring the owl to a veterinarian. So the girls went to school, and the guy (who was from New England, on a holiday trip in Berlin) and me went to a vet. The vet looked at the owl and said, easy. But he already had three operations started and asked if we could bring the owl, which was easily treatable, to a vet clinic on the other side of town. The holiday guy from New England had stuff to do, so the vet gave me a box for the owl and off I went.
At the clinic, they also said, this looks manageable. They took the owl, thanked me, and that's all I know. But when we were going with the train, the owl looked at me from inside the box, deep down into my eyes right to my soul. It seemed it was thinking what is this guy doing here? Is he eating me, or does he understand? I will never forget the way this owl looked at me.
And see, this is what happens when you walk. You see the world around you. All the persons with cars on that day in that neighborhood, they never saw the owl. They never helped this wounded animal. And it is them that are the poorer for it.
I am reminded of when our cat Victoria died. We had only had her a few months when she got hit by a car, she was still just a kitten really. Susannah, a daughter, was less than two but more than one at the time and she cried inconsolably. She is almost four now, and she does understand death, the permanence of it, and she still thinks and sometimes talks about Victoria, especially in the context of death.
I don't know how old your son is, and I won't presume to offer advice, but children can understand what is happening, and I don't think that there is a loss of innocence, or a cloud over them or anything like that. Death is a part of humanity and I think that you will find that they have all of the tools that they need to accept it. I would just say what you honestly believe and how you feel. Children are capable of understanding far more than they are capable of expressing, and in my experience, the thing that takes their childhood away most is when we deceive them, whether about facts or about our own emotions.
Had a similar situation with a lizard the other day. Cat caught it and shook it so hard as to break its neck. Every once in a while it would breath but without limb function, it was slow doom ahead. My girlfriend asked if the lizard will survive. Yes, I lied. Meanwhile, I was plotting ways to kill it swiftly. But I couldn’t do it. Didn’t have it in me. And while I could bear the cruelty of nature, I did suffer from the two counts of failed courage.
Beautifully written and poignant. The world is a better place for that story. I think it is important to slow, be thoughtful and contemplative in those moments between life and death - human or animal, predator or prey. Thanks for sharing :-)
So much richness to your words. As I read Jed McKenna there are many shared insights of what it all means. Important to take our own perspective as truth in such life questions...
That passage from War and Peace is my absolute favorite! It is the first "deep" passage in the book, after hundreds of pages in which nothing happens
This is beautiful. I'm not sure if it would take away from the meaning if I asked if Prince Andrei (the rabbit) survived? But I'm still young and barely an adult so I can't help but ask.
this was a truly touching read. thank you.