Thursday, July 23, 2020

Shedding Tears

A sad thing happened this morning. I was driving one of my cats, Tippecanoe, to our vet to have his stitches removed. About 2 miles from the vet's office on a stretch of four lane I felt a sudden thud under one wheel and in the rear view window I could see a small black cat with legs flailing.

Living in a rural area I'm very consciously always on the lookout scanning the shoulders for animals, everything from deer and bears to cats and dogs may suddenly dash across the road. This time I didn't see anything before the sickening thump. There wasn't a good place to turn when I saw what happened so I quickly drove on to my vet where I could leave Tippecanoe and go back to the scene. Every moment that I had to wait before the receptionist got off the phone and I could tell her what I needed to do was torture. 

I hopped back in my car and flew back to the scene.  I did a u-turn across the four-lane and pulled up on the shoulder next to the little cat. It was immediately obvious that the poor thing was dead, but I couldn't just leave it there to be run over again and again. So watching for a break in the traffic I ran out and scooped the little limp thing up in a towel and brought it back to the car.

Right there on the side of the road holding that limp little body in a towel I began to sob uncontrollably. I climbed behind the wheel and shook and cried for several minutes before starting the engine again. I probably wasn't really in any shape to be driving, but did so anyway, tears running down my face, sobbing and moaning. 

And I realized right away, that as sad as the situation was, I wasn't really crying for the dead kitty. The death of the little cat had just simply been the mechanism to release all the pain, fear and sadness of the past four months. I was crying for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd,  and for all the more than 140,000 people that we've lost to COVID 19. I was crying for the losses of connection and dislocations that the pandemic has caused all of us, and I was crying for all the fears and uncertainties that we face about the fate of our democratic society.   

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