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Monday, February 13, 2012

The Messenger

I thought I'd lost first (paid) published story! Here it is....


Monday was the day from hell. Nothing seemed to be going right. Delays, stupidity, forgetfulness, frustration. An all-over feeling of blah. And it was cold. When my ride to dog training class fell through, I decided to take my cattledog, Dru, for a nice walk. Maybe the day could be redeemed. Maybe we'd meet a canine playmate at the park.

As I was walking down West Boulevard, two people hailed me. "Hey, do you live around here?" There was desperation in their voices.

"Sure do."

"Can you help us?" I approached and I could see that the man was holding something in his hands. Being rather near-sighted, I couldn't see what it was. What stuck in my mind were his painted-black fingernails. As I drew closer, I could now see that he held a big black crow. "He's really hurt," the woman said, "we don't know what to do! I think he got hit by a car." I whipped out my trusty cell phone, called my friend, Alana, who works for a vet. "I have an injured crow. Can you come pick me up?" (I don't drive.) Of course, she said she would. I gingerly took the squawking, twitching bird. His head was thrown back, his eyes flickering madly. I placed him inside my coat and asked the fellow to zip me up. I tied Dru's leash around my waist and back home we went, the crow struggling and caw-cawing, Dru dancing excitedly around me.

After I arrived home, and put Dru in his crate, I decided to wait on my side steps for Alana to come. I spoke softly to the crow, "Shhhh, it's OK, it's OK" and gently settled him in a more comfortable position. His cries had taken on that burbling, harsh sound that usually means blood is in the lungs. Not good. I reached inside my coat and stroked his breast with my thumb. I cooed quietly, "There, there, Thunder" (for I'd named the crow that) "you'll be OK. Poor baby!" I had visions in my head of seeing Thunder nursed back to health and eventually seeing him set free. I'd help as much as I could. The thought thrilled me.

Thunder started to settle under my caress. "This is good," I thought, "He'll get well." The cawing and burbling had stopped; he was just breathing now. I kept up the tender talk, hoping I was soothing him. He WAS calmer. This was such a good sign. I felt so good, so helpful. I want to say it was sudden but I guess it really wasn't. One moment, it seemed, I could feel his breathing and heartbeat under my thumb; the next moment I couldn't feel anything. I cautiously opened my jacket just a bit, and laid my hand on him. I held my breath, hoping against hope, but he was gone. I bent over him and wept.

I kept him inside my jacket, next to my heart, until his body's warmth was gone. I held him next to my heart until Alana came and took him out of my hands. Tears glistened on his feathers. Tears for an animal I did not even know. Alana took him to the park and laid him to rest underneath a tree and covered him with leaves.

It was the first time I had felt the last vestiges of a beating heart. I had arrived too late to witness my father's last moments. To say goodbye and let him go. I had not been able to cope with my mother's removal from life support. No, my brother was there for her last sigh as the machines stopped breathing for her. But, here on my side steps, on a cold November evening, perhaps this had been my chance to help a soul make its transition from life into death and beyond. Maybe Thunder the Crow came into my life for that very reason. He needed my help and love. I don't know. I am sure that someday I will understand the significance of Thunder's brief interlude in my life. That I will understand what it all meant. For all that happens to us and around us is part of the tapestry of our lives -- the color, pattern and weave of who we are becoming every moment. Right now, I don't know.

I have heard it said that Crow is a messenger, that he represents magic and luck. I don't know. But I do know that when I pass on, I will meet all my animals at the Rainbow Bridge. There will be an assortment of wonderful dogs and cats, and my pony, Pooh. And one other to greet me. A crow named Thunder.

©Mia Knerly 1999

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