Sunday, July 12, 2015

Not the best end to a great ride...

Lately I've had really bad luck with critters.  For those of you who know me, you know I am somehow more affected about the welfare of animals than most people.  It sounds terrible, I understand, but there's something inside of me which always moves towards living creatures that don't have a choice in what's happening to them.  It's not that I don't care about the people in my life, but animals give my heart strings a bit of a stronger pull--they have since I was a child.

Last week, on a lovely annual century with friends, we came across a adolescent sparrow in the road.  It appeared to be injured--although I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it--and I just couldn't keep going without seeing what I could do for it.  It was a hot day and the last thing I wanted was for it to bake on the road.  As I gently picked it up in my gloved hand and walked it to the side of the road, I knew it was stressed and dehydrated.  I considered ending its life right then and there--something I hate doing but my dad taught me as a little girl that it's the most humane thing once in awhile.  I couldn't do it.  I broke.  Instead, I took my water bottle and slowly fed it water drop by drop--watching its eyes dilate and perk up with each sip.  One of my riding friends, a nurse, knew it wouldn't survive, but knowing how I am with animals, kept telling me it might be alright.  I knew he was just trying to comfort me but it was such a kind gesture.  I set the bird in the grass, hoping a hawk would swiftly pick it up and make it a part of the food chain as quickly as possible.  As I rode off, I questioned if I had made the right decision.

Today, one week later, a starling got caught between two of us on a ride.  I felt it against my leg and knew it was most likely struck by the other riders behind me.  I pulled out of line instantly and went back for it.  If it was severely injured, I knew what I had to do since I still felt guilt regarding my decision the previous week.  I found it on the path, most certainly on its way out, but breathing very rapidly and showing severe stress.  After battling multiple demons in my head, fighting with myself if I should or shouldn't play "god", I chose to end its life.  Instantly the tears came and I felt like just sitting down next to it apologizing again and again.  I wanted to be alone, I didn't want to celebrate this ride and in some ways I hated myself.  When I finally decided to roll off, I thought of my dad.  I knew I got this sensitivity to animals from him.  I remember watching him choose to do the same thing to critters that were injured and those were some of the only times I ever saw him cry.  Part of me thanked him for giving me this sensitivity and part of me cursed him.  It's a rotten and unfair world sometimes but I have to find away to see this side of me as a gift.

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