Yesterday I was walking home when I came across an injured pigeon on the pavement. His hind feathers were missing and he had a chunk of his backside missing too, exposing a bloodied rear. He was visibly in pain, unable to move at all, and clearly slowly dying.
Being the animal lover (to put it lightly) that I am, I couldn’t just go on walking and leave this poor creature alone on the sidewalk. I was with the 11 year old girl I look after and felt under pressure to move quickly as she was desperate to go to the park. However she knows how much I love animals and has actually seen my related despair once before (when we saw a dog almost get run over by our bus) and so she was so patient with me and happy to help me try and rescue the bird, even though she wasn’t particularly concerned herself. She could see how upsetting I found the whole situation and was actually a great source of validation for me.
She took a photo of us as we were walking to my Dad’s house, and am I glad she did – because sadly Pidge didn’t make it.
He died after about ten minutes of being carried and stroked in my arms, just as we arrived at my house. It was a pertinently sad moment for me because I had created for myself a real sense of hope that we would get poor Pidge to the vet and that he would eventually be okay. I wasn’t expecting him to die so suddenly in my clutches and so it was a bit of a shock, quite surreal and rather upsetting to me (and my girl).
I am not sure many people will understand quite the depths of my attachment to animals, or the extent to which their suffering impacts me. The thing is that my sensitivity and compassion does not extend solely to humans; I find it excruciatingly difficult to see any creature in despair or pain – any creature at all.
I also found it extremely hard to let go of the self-judgements I was experiencing regarding what I could or “should” have done differently in my attempt to save Pidge’s life.
The little girl I nanny gave me a hug as she saw me welling up, and said “At least he got to spend his last ten minutes being loved“. This pure and simple comment from her help me to change my perspective slightly, and find some gratitude and meaning in the fact that we had crossed paths with Pidge when we had and done what we did, even if the outcome was a sad one. I felt a happy-sad feeling which I would not have been able to access if this little girl hadn’t interrupted my thought process of unhelpful self-judgements, with the gentle love and soothing she evoked in me.
(I imagine people shaming and mimicking me for being so affected by an experience such as this – although really I don’t need to justify my feelings in relation to it at all) –
I am a sensitive soul and this applies in all facets of my life. As soon as I invest in anyone or anything with even a fraction of emotion, any losses or pain (of self or other) can feel devastating to me. Yesterday I felt as though I had “failed” this little birdy because I was unable to save him from his fate – and that self-judgement was representative of a familiar process I experience in life. I have this deep-seated instinctual desire to relieve the world of suffering and “save” every vulnerable being within it, (or at least do anything I can do to try). I know it’s an unrealistic internal expectation of myself, and can’t express how much this pains me. I just want to be here for everyone and everything and make it all better all the time. But I can’t. No one can.
R.I.P little Pidge.
At least I was able to give him those ten minutes of love, as my girl so beautifully reminded me.
It made me ponder and realise that in life it is not the outcome that is of most importance, but the way each unique moment of significance is treated, approached always with love and compassion and honoured as part of a grand journey.