A few weeks ago I live-trapped a young rat, slightly bigger than a field mouse, and since it was so bitter cold outside, decided to wait until warmer weather to release it (thinking it could use a few warmer days to build itself a nest). I kept it in a 5-gallon bucket in the basement with a screen over the top, made sure it had bedding and food and a water bottle. I felt badly about keeping it in there, trapped and all alone, but I thought my reasoning was sound. Still, I had a bad feeling in my gut about keeping it down there. Well, the water bottle stopped up. An inch from water, my captive died of thirst.
I could have prevented it.
I have two sweet dogs. Since they tend to chew shit up, we keep them crated when we’re not home. Paw doesn’t mind, but Jake, with his hound dog spirit, hates it. I have a similar nasty gut feeling about it. If we left them outside, any number of terrible things could happen. They could get out, get lost, get killed by a car, get stolen, get rocks thrown at them, get hurt like Sunny –
If only. If only I had protected her better.
My daughter, my only child, was born with a serious heart defect. The first four months of her life I lived in a catch-22 torture – she would have died without a surgery that could have killed her. I want to cage her up in my heart, make her tiny and put her back in my womb so I can keep her close always, never let anything happen to her that could take her away, because I know how it feels to look into the great maw of that particular monster.
I couldn’t keep the rat alive, captive. I couldn’t stop Sunny from going out on the porch, her favorite spot, that day. We handed Ry over to the surgeon, and each day, I let her go. I let her go with my hands, but my anxious heart stays wrapped around her, begging the world to bring her back to me safe. She goes into the world, her beautiful, free, natural self, and I could lose her. It’s true. I can’t bear it. I have to bear it.