I find myself very upset and emotional about an encounter with a wild deer yesterday. I'm not perfectly clear as to why I keep crying over this, but maybe by the end of this post we will have figured it out. Here's what happened.
Soon after sunrise yesterday, I noticed my cat staring intently at something outside. It was a young doe and she was practically ON my porch, right in my yard. I live in the forest and it's not unusual to catch a glimpse of deer in the woods, but to be this close and so still was highly unusual. I have two largish, noisy dogs so the wild creatures tend to keep their distance from the house.
At first I was excited, very quietly racing to get my phone to take pictures before it ran away as expected. Something didn't seem right so I eased open a window to get a better look at her. She heard the window opening and looked right at me but still made no move to run away. Now I'm starting to worry. Maybe she's hurt? Maybe she needs my help? I risked opening a door and walking outside. I was within 15 feet of her and she still just looked at me. Something was definitely wrong. I couldn't see any obvious injuries but her face did look kind of swollen and her eyes not bright.
I started trying to track down someone who could advise me and learned that there are fatal diseases affecting our deer population. There's no cure and great suffering before they finally succumb to it. This is the part I can't stand, that hurts my heart.
I think about wild life a lot, all animals in fact. I'm a true animal lover and want a joyful life and a quick, meaningful and painless death for all creatures. When I picture deer, I picture them playing in fields as babies, gracefully running and eating and living in the beautiful forest, then one day being brought down by a hunter or predator. Happy, healthy, having fun.... then dead, a meaningful death that will bring life to others. A perfect event in the beautiful circle of life. It never occurred to me to think about a slow painful death from disease.
I know there must be some higher purpose for these sicknesses and it might not be for me to know what it is, but I'll ask. In meditation, I'll ask my highest self, my higher power, what was served by the suffering of this beautiful creature.
The Wildlife Resources Agency was very helpful and informative and they were on their way to "help me" by euthanizing her and I assume taking her away. They were traveling a great distance though, so before they could get here, she had wandered off into the woods again. I could just barely see her and her head was hanging down almost to the ground, clearly miserable, suffering and in pain. But the decision was made to just let the disease take her. She wasn't on my property anymore..... for various reasons, the officer elected not to come and put her out of her misery.
So my feelings are a big jumble of shame and pity and regret. I'll get to looking for the gifts and soothing myself to a better feeling place in a little while, but right now it feels like the right thing to do to mourn her, to wallow in the sadness a bit, to honor her and grieve her suffering.
First, I wish there was no such thing as disease and suffering. But since there is, I wish I had found the courage to shoot her and end her misery but I didn't. I wish there had been a way to capture her and end her life peacefully or better yet cure her, save her, and let her live out the rest of her life. I wish the resources weren't spread so thin so that someone could have gotten to her in time. I wish I could know that she didn't suffer for long, isn't in fact STILL suffering, alone in the woods. I might get the courage to go and look for her remains, to be sure. I don't know.
The obvious gift is a reminder that life is short, unpredictable and precious. There's never a moment to waste. I will light a candle for her as suggested by my friend and search my heart for meaning. I will lay her to rest in my mind and resume the art of living a full and joyful life. My heart is more open and all these tears are certainly cleansing, so I owe this little girl my thanks. I honor and celebrate your short life, I grieve for your pain, I promise to live fully. Thank you my little deer friend.
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