Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Tough Thing

Today, I had to do something I never thought I'd be able to do. I kind of figured it would happen one day, but I had hoped Clint could always do it when it needed doing. How come the right thing to do is often also the hard thing to do?

Amanda found a tiny kitten writhing in pain and brought it to me. I knew immediately the kitten was dying. I prayed for wisdom to help it, but knew what had to be done because there are certain signs the body gives. When this has happened before, I have been able to call Clint, and he was able to come home to "take care of it." This time, Clint couldn't take care of it. I was faced with two choices: wait until Clint could get here or do it myself. One way extended the suffering, possibly by hours, and the other was not somewhere I wanted to go.

I grew up in a very rural area and have always been practical about the need to put animals down...when it was the men doing it. I can clearly remember many instances when I was a child where it had to be done. Never once did I witness a single man take this aspect of animal stewardship callously. I have seen big, strong men cry when they had to end something's life though. When an animal is suffering and is beyond help, you end the suffering as an act of compassion for the dying creature. It's one of the many creeds of country living and is part of owning livestock. A man who ignores the suffering of his animal is considered to be lowly in character and "not worth his salt."

I battled inwardly. I have never taken one of our animals lives. In fact, when I reconnected with a friend from high school, I apologized AGAIN for hitting his dog with my car 20+ years ago. (I haven't dared speak to his younger brother since that day because I still haven't recovered from the "good cussin'" he gave me. :-) As a herbal healer, my instinct is to increase health and preserve life. Putting an animal down is a long ways from that.

My reasons for NOT doing it were many. I didn't want to take the baby animal's life. I didn't want to cause more suffering if I messed up. I didn't want to see things that would stick with me as I still have very visual, but infrequent, nightmares from a fatal car accident I was at years ago. I didn't want to hurt my children by ending their pet's life or have them think badly of me for doing it. I didn't want to listen to a friend of mine tell me how she could "never do that." I wrestled with these and many other thoughts.

Then I heard that tiny still whisper of the Holy Spirit. "You're selfish."

It dawned on me that I WAS being incredibly selfish. A big clue to that fact was that all of my reasons started with "I." The fact was the kitten needed a quick end to its suffering. If you've ever been in real pain, you know time slows down while you are in the throes of it. Those few minutes while I thought it out probably seemed like hours to the kitten.

So, I did it. I ended the kitten's agony by taking its life with a .22. I thought I'd be a wreck afterwards, but I'm OK. It was a quick and peaceful end to its struggle. I am not happy, but am at peace knowing I didn't force the little cat to wait until Clint could get home hours from now. I couldn't fix the issue, but it is no longer struggling.

I thought Amanda, 16 and already so mature, would look at me differently, but she locked eyes with me for a long, precious moment and said...

"It needed to be done. I am glad you did it. I'll take care of the rest for you."