While walking in a field by a stream today, I heard a rustling squeal near my feet. A squirrel lay camouflaged among the autumn leaves, grunting. He was bleeding from his face, chest and front legs. Gary and Gypsy gathered to see. Panicked, the squirrel scrabbled with his crimson wet front paws, trying to drag his limp body through a patch of blood-stained dirt. Safety must lie on the far side of us, somewhere, anywhere.
I started praying for the squirrel-loving forces of the Universe to come help this little guy die peacefully. I held the palms of my hands towards him, allowing all my love to pour through them into him. He stopped scrabbling in the leaves and rested, groaning. Gypsy finished sniffing him and sat quietly, wanting to be helpful. Gary and I stood still, beaming squirrel-love and comfort as best we could. His grunts, squeals and heaving breath revealed that he would not survive long.
We stood with him. Nobody wants to die alone in an open field.
A black cat flashed past the corners of our eyes. Evidently the cat had attacked the squirrel, and wanted to return for more play. That was no longer an option, though.
For some reason, the multicolor fur on this little being reminded me of a set of pajamas. I named him PJ Squirrel.
After a period of us all standing together in loving quiet, PJ Squirrel began to move. He dragged and heaved himself towards Gary. Puff, groan, growl, puff. When he reached Gary’s shoe, he leaned against it and went limp. He burrowed his pointy little nose into the earth by Gary’s shoe. It seemed that he really did want someone to be with him as he died. Our hearts glowed, feeling his trust.
Eventually we needed to sit down. Gary began the process of shifting his weight earthward. The movement startled PJ from his doze. He frantically dragged himself towards my safe shoes. With his tail draped over one shoe, he rested his painful bones again. When I sat, startled little PJ scrabbled back to Gary’s shoes. He hauled his body between both shoes and lay softly growling.
Gypsy, Gary, PJ and I sat together quietly for half an hour. Periodically a pain would spasm through PJ’s body. His tail would fluff up suddenly and he would growl, groan and pant. I longed to pet him, but didn’t want to risk a bite.
The sun began setting, and a chill fell on our vigil. Gary put on his thick gloves, and carefully picked up our expiring friend. Holding a squealing PJ away from his body, Gary walked over to the biggest tree by the stream. He tenderly set PJ on the massive root where it met the trunk. Gypsy sniffed the squirrel’s back. Within minutes, PJ gathered his strength and darted into a hole at the base of the tree. Leaves immediately fell and covered the hole behind him.
He was home.Gary and I backed away. Gypsy stayed to sniff and make sure PJ was settled in safely. I sent out a silent call to his squirrel family to take over. A halo of reverence surrounded us as we walked away from the tree that warmly harbored a little bleeding squirrel. We felt honored to have gained the trust of someone who was normally afraid of us. Together we built a bridge between nature and us. It was a holy day.