Ten years ago, my youngest son was playing outside in our back yard. Suddenly he was at my side excitedly working to get my attention. Follow me, mama…you need to see something…
We went out back, and he held my hand, pulling me to a corner where our off-grade house foundation came together. There was a tiny squirrel, squawking and pressing his little body into the structure as best he could, obviously terribly disturbed by the presence of looming and large humans.
Mom…we need to save him…can we, mom?
I went inside and got sturdy leather gloves and a shoe box with a lid…and we got the poor, scared little critter. Immediately I went to my trusty source of all information, google, and quickly read about the likelihood of the age of the little squirrel, how/what to feed him, how/what to put in his enclosure to help him feel safe and secure, how/what to help him potty…
My precious boy didn’t leave my side…helped to scald the milk…said soothing and comforting things to the scared little squirrel…found all the items we needed and put them in a big box…filled the syringe with the milk…and quickly calmed the squirrel to the point that he could hold him and feed him.
Meanwhile I went back to google where I learned tons about wild, abandoned squirrels in no time at all. I found squirrel rescue sites and read their advice and information, and learned about the potential of re-releasing this little guy back in the wild after he was old enough. My son was completely captivated, and the squirrel seemed content to curl up in a nook or cranny of his body and sleep.
It was really sweet.
This went on for four days, with all of the family enjoying the antics of the baby squirrel and regularly talking about how and when we would release him. We each enjoyed holding him and feeding him, but it was the youngest son who adopted him for his own.
Until day four.
Day four, the baby squirrel was obviously not feeling as perky. He barely ate, he just wanted to stay curled up, and my mama heart knew we were in trouble. I went back to google, and frantically searched for some answer, some resource. I emailed several of the rescuers and tried calling a few more, leaving messages. Meanwhile, the baby squirrel was failing fast, and I held him, frantically willing him to continue living. I ended up in my living room where I have four large windows, two which look out into our back yard. Tears began to stream down my face…and I began to pray…no…PRAY…God…please God…please save this baby…I know, I know you have thousands of squirrels out there, and I know, squirrels don’t live that long anyway…but I am asking you to save this squirrel…God please save this squirrel…
Before I knew it, I was sobbing, and from deep within came this.
God…You are supposed to love us, not just “us” but me…God, please…please let me know that you hear ME…that you love ME…please God…save this squirrel…please let me know that you care at all about ME…
The squirrel died.
HUSBAND had come into the living room midway through my begging. He had stood by me, put his arms on my shoulder. I begged him to pray, too, and have a vague memory of him doing so in some stilted fashion. But even with him there, I was alone. I was alone with him, and I was alone with God. We were there, the three of us, but we were there. And there. And there.
A little of me died that day too. As the story of my life unfolds, however, it ended up not being the end of the story. In a very odd way, it was the start.