The Bittersweet Day


Lucky Garvin
Lucky Garvin

Some weeks ago, we set ‘Big Boy’, our rescued g-hog, free. The time had come. When g-hogs are ready to leave you, they display a restlessness far easier to detect than describe. Perhaps it’s just in their nature; perhaps it’s the evening  breeze whispering through the screen at night; Nature’s voice whispering softly, patiently, insistently that it’s time to come home; to be what you were intended to be. Of course, if it weren’t illegal or immoral, you could keep them as pets. Indeed, in captivity, they live twenty years or more; released, their life expectancy is 2 years. But, if we violated the law and kept them safe, they really wouldn‘t be g-hogs any more. So I watched him shamble down the wooded ravine toward an uncertain fate.

Outdoors for them is far more dangerous than for us.  I tell myself I’m glad he survived, glad he is now free, but my heart knows the rest of the story. I haven’t seen ‘Big Boy’ since that morning. But the food we set out for him everyday is gone, so there’s hope. ‘A good breakfast…” you know. Our other g-hog, ‘Baby’, is likely depressed at the loss of his friend, but ‘Big Boy’ simply couldn’t wait. Baby once slept sixteen hours a day – he put my cats to shame – but, now he’s underfoot and full of mischief. Every now and then he stops his antics and stares out the window. His time is coming. Maybe he’ll wound up with his old friend.

We have three baby squirrels now, two days old. One has a huge hematoma on his head, hitting a branch on his way to ground, ejected from his secure home by some malevolent force. His tiny candle flickered as Sabrina struggled to save him, but this morning he gave up a fight he could not win; succumbing at last to the weight of his injuries. We laid him to rest with the sorrow that such things have to be, that they are part of a natural order. He was so small, I dug his grave with the toe of my boot.  But, the good news is:  his two siblings are thriving.

Later that day, Sabrina and I would have committed to the closest psychiatric institution by any court in the land.  We were running back and forth in our aviary, carefully using nets to capture certain birds therein; those that were fully-feathered, fully-flighted and self-feeding. About ten of them: Thrashers, Robins and Doves. We pulled them gently out of our nets and they flew to freedom from our opened hands – without so much as a ‘Much obliged” I might add.

So, at day’s end, I consider the events thereof.  Like you, I’m sure, people often ask me, “How are you doing?” I usually answer, ‘Fabulously!” And I am. Long years ago I read that the three characteristics of a happy life are: someone special to love, rewarding work to do, and good health. I have all three.

I would pray for all people that they have as special a person in their lives as my Sabrina. I would pray each person have a passion in their lives. A passion engages the soul. It gives us something to go to sleep thinking about, sometimes dream about and awaken excited by the promises of another day. Better even than this is something I learned living with my wife: To have a shared passion with the person you love. In our case, it’s the rehabilitation of wildlife, of course, but it could be nearly anything. To share a passion with a loved one is to never run out of things to talk about, fret over, plan for, rejoice over, laugh and, yes, sometimes cry over. Together.

When your life is blessed with these three critical endowments, all the rest is detail. Yes, my day today, perhaps like yours, had some sorrow, and joy. But when you have someone to share it with it seems, in my case at least, I draw a bit closer to what life’s supposed to be truly about.

By Lucky Garvin
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