...quiet, about a lot of things...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Not over...

This is a one time two part post. Please read yesterdays post The Most Unlikely Thing, before this ending. I want things to make sense. Thanks.



I threw the phone receiver all the way across my tiny kitchen.It was 8:15 am, on a national holiday. The game warden was NOT going to call back. My vet was not coming. My husband was a hemisphere away...a day in the future, who knew what timezone he was in. I sat down on the tile floor and stroked the grout with my fingers. The floor was still there. I was just checking. I was not floating above my body.The doe was dying, shaking on the cold snow. She was hidden in the gully, I could not see her. But she was there. I could feel her. My dogs could smell her. I wanted to disappear, to run away. Instead I took a shower. I leaned against different tiles. Felt different grout with my fingers.

There was a message blinking at me when I returned to the kitchen. The game warden. His cell. 9:05am. I called back. He said that they were half staffed, as it was a holiday. He asked for my county and problem. I told him. He paused. He could send an officer out, in the afternoon..by 3:00, to shoot the deer. They would leave her there. She was the same as road kill. He then said, she would die, on her own. I told him I knew that. But she was suffering. We were back where we started. I thanked him, and told him it wouldn't be necessary for an officer to come.

I phoned my vet. He pulled over his pick up to speak to me. I asked him, through sobs, what to do, what would he do. She was in shock he said..so pain was probably not an issue. He asked me if she could still raise her head. I told him she could, but she could not move her body. He said her spine had probably been compromised, but if she could raise her head she was conscious...and fearful. A prey animal unable to flee. He said ending her suffering was a good thing. A humane thing. He told me how to do it. When I heard him explain slowly how, I gasped. I said no. I could not. He echoed what the game warden had said. She would die on her own. But it would take hours. He told me, I could do this. It was the best thing, a good thing. If I did decide, afterwards, I could load her in the bed of my truck and drop her off at the clinic. He had more land, so he would dispose of her body. He knew I was worried about my girls, and my dogs. He knew I was a city girl.

It took me a minute to gather my supplies. A heavy plastic trash bag. Duct tape. Baling twine. Shaking hands.

I walked on the snow, through the gate, to the doe in the gully. I knelt down on the snow. I stroked her neck. She lifted only her head, turned an ear. Made a noise I had never heard before. Deer talk. I did not know that. She had huge eyes. Soft eyes. Tired eyes. It must have been a long night for her. I wondered if she was a mama yet. Probably not. She was too young. She was much bigger than I had thought though.

And then I killed her. I put my hands on her head. I placed the plastic bag over her muzzle. I wound the tape over her nose. I tied the twine around the tape. I applied pressure to her jaws. Dr. Shaw had told me that I could put the bag over her whole head...but it was more humane to not cover her eyes. She would panic, if I covered her eyes. I did not cover her eyes. I watched her breath in and out. the bag filling with her air. It took so much longer than I thought it would. So much harder to kill than I had thought. My hands got tired. I was shaking. I loosened my grip, and she breathed in again. She was still clear eyed. She was still there. I told her no. Stop. Go. Relax...I tightened harder. I turned away. I raged at God. I called the devil COYOTE. I trembled. I cried. I pressed. Pleading to the sky, staring at my breath as it hung cold in the air. I listened to her breath fill the plasic bag.

Then, the plastic was silent. I looked. Her eyes had turned. She was gone. I fell back, covered in sweat. I sobbed, wailed...and then I heard Maggie on the hill..."Mom???"
she was almost to the top of the crest, she almost could see me..I screamed so loud and so strong..."Get back in the house..NOW, GO NOW!!" I could not see her, but I heard her fall, and run on the crunchy iced driveway all the way back to the house. I heard the back door slam. The horses were scared. The dogs were barking.

An hour later, I came in the house. Maggie was in her bedroom. Rachel met me on the stairs. She thought I was hurt. She would call 911. She thought I had been attacked. I told her I was fine. I told her what had happened. I slid down the wall. My 12 year old daughter held me as I cried in her arms. She told me how brave I was. She told me I had done a good thing, she understood. She was proud of me.

I told her I had to. No thing should suffer. I told her I was scared. I told her how strong the will to live is. I told her the truth. Life is sacred. Death is hard. Death is part of life. I never really had known that before then.

I went upstairs to soothe Maggie my baby, my little girl on her top bunk, hiding.I picked up the phone when it rang. It was Michael. Rachel had called him. He'd been sleeping. I sat down on the bed. I told him we needed a gun.


Who knows what's for the good...we just try our best..That's all I know. For more...for good happy stories..go to Sunday Scribbling.

I'm done with this story...I hope it will go away now. I have offered it to the muse. My muse. I don't know why I would tell him this. We were kids together.We thought we could plan our lives. But I couldn't plan this. I could not have seen it coming in a million years.
posted by wendy at 12:13 PM

10 Comments:

I had to stop reading this half-way through because I couldn't see. It took a while. I was very moved, I, who carry spiders outside and try to catch mice alive, and tried myself to save untold numbers of birds....

Excellent piece. Do I dare go now to see what v-grrrl wrote?

10/21/06, 10:49 PM  

Well ... very moving and graphic - in a humane way. That is what being humane is - just the addition of one small noun to human.
I found what you wrote aout death being part of life affecting - an experience like that certainly accentuates that truth.
Your muse could do with being ignored now for a spell. Tell him you need a day off!

10/22/06, 12:57 AM  

This is beautiful. Beautifully told, very moving. Thank you.

10/22/06, 1:40 PM  

I don't think I could have done this....I think I'd have been a weeping, praying, sobbing blob in the house all day, afraid to meet that doe's gaze.

10/22/06, 2:04 PM  

How very touching, and sad. This is a subject I've been a bit obssessed with in the past myself. I've never tried turning anything into fiction, though - I have not the mind for it.

10/22/06, 6:26 PM  

I teared up reading this - and I'm at work! Your details (the crunching snow, the weak-beamed flashlight, your fingers on the grout) are beautiful, they make your world visible in my mind's eye. It was a brave, brave thing you did - a Good thing surely. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

10/23/06, 9:31 AM  

Great post. Very moving. And a great peak into what country life is like.

10/23/06, 10:37 AM  

Oh, sweetheart! What a brave, courageous and humane thing you did! And to write about it in such detail - the experience itself, plus writing about it must have really taken a lot out of you. Thanks for sharing this story. Now get some rest! xo

10/23/06, 3:49 PM  

I was in a similar situation years ago and didn't have the courage to end the suffering in front of me. I read this post a few days ago and it's been circling in my brain since. What you did was an act of kindness and courage.

10/23/06, 10:46 PM  

strong.

10/24/06, 3:30 PM  

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