On this last day of September, I stop to feel grateful for all the gorgeous sunshine, for the good health enjoyed by family, for the beautiful art being created every day on Whidbey Island and, of course, for poems. And yet
another thought: how our lives can change in the briefest of instants. Driving the back road toward the off-leash dog park at Bayview -- we see a woman sprawled at the side of the road, not really enough shoulder to sit on safely -- a huge Golden Retriever in her arms. Her sobs rend the air as two cars ahead swerve left to go around her. I pull over and go to her. The injured dog is too much for her to lift and my husband assists, moving into the back seat with the dog, Micah, in his lap. She will follow us to the vet clinic in Freeland.
Between wrenching sobs, we piece the story together. She was weeding her garden when Micah suddenly bolted toward the road. She ran after, calling him back, and heard the loud slam of impact.
What kind of person rams a car into a dog and drives off? Someone famous (Einstein? Gandhi?) wrote that the quality of human society can be assessed by how it treats animals ... not an exact quote, but that's the general idea. The polar bears are dying because of our greed for fossil fuels, honeybees are in trouble, and vivisection still goes on. We have a lot of work to do on our society's quality ...
Dr. Parent comes out with a stethoscope and listens for Micah's heartbeat, only to stand back shaking his head. We feel like failures, arriving too late to the scene of doom. Micah's human says, I could see the light leaving his eyes ...
This may turn into a poem some day, but on this day, and for many days after, the thought of Micah brings only tears and a heavy heart. For those of you who know the pain of losing your companion dog, I recommend Robert Frost's poem "Canis Major."
May we all do better in our positions of stewardship of the Earth and all its animals.