A Little Death

Today I held one of the chipmunks while it took its last breath, cradled in my hands, my fingertip against its slowing heartbeat.

Having so much life in the garden means there’s also at least a little death. Sometimes that looks like a shattered eggshell, or a mess of feathers, or a ransacked burrow…and sometimes that looks like a body. Sometimes, the life is already gone…and sometimes, there are a few minutes left.

I don’t know what animals feel at their hour of death or at any other time (for that matter, I don’t know what my fellow humans feel at any given moment either), but I have felt enough loneliness and fear in my life (haven’t we all?) to know that company and love matter in anyone’s darkest hours. All animals included.

This morning, I held the chipmunk and prayed; at other deaths, I’ve whispered words of comfort to the dying as I wept. I don’t think there is one right way.

Some might say these are just little lives, little deaths, but I believe they are occasions for compassion; occasions to love and to console a fellow living creature however we can; to be a small imperfect peace for another until they rest in Peace.

Amen.

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