Have you ever noticed that death, or even the subject of death, can illicit very odd behavior from even your closest of kin?
Well, I've noticed some very interesting behavior even in myself this past week while I'm facing this firsthand.
The perfect example of this can be illustrated through an odd animal encounter yesterday.
I was sitting at the dining room table of the cabin, working away on my laptop. The beautiful clouds over a serene Lake Almanor put my inner turmoil seemingly at ease.
I heard Kai frolicking around in the living room, so I went to see why she was so playful.
A loud shriek involuntarily errupted from my mouth.
Then, a second one.
Kai got so scared, that she hightailed it out of the living room and hid behind the first chair she could find in the adjoining room. With tail tucked between her back legs, her big brown eyes looked up at me with curiosity.
Perhaps her inner dialogue would have gone something like this, "What's your deal, mom? Don't freak! It's just a little mouse in the house, and I wanted to make it my friend."
Sure enough, it was a little gray and white mouse--belly up--in the middle of the living room floor.
I stared at it with amazement.
It reminded me of the little pet mice my sister used to keep in her bedroom. While I found them fascinating then, I thought they stunk and didn't want much to do with them.
Now, I had to go search the house for the proper tool to dispose of the little guy.
Tongs came to mind.
I went into the kitchen (I know, don't judge me! I figured that these would be tongs used only once, only to be immediately replaced once the mission was complete). Come to find out, the only tongs at the cabin are the metal, triangular ones. I cringed at the thought of having to apply just the right amount of pressure to pick up the rodent's small body. Yuck!
I had to switch gears.
A spatula! Yep, that would be perfect.
Sure enough, there was a to-go box on the counter--rinsed and dry--that would provide the perfect mouse-sized coffin. It looked like it formerly held two, gooey, cheesy enchiladas. Now, it would go to use in another way.
With spatula and box in hand, I made my way back to the living room.
As I knelt down to scoop up the body, it flinched.
I screamed again.
At lightning speed, I closed the lid to the box with the mouse inside.
I couldn't just throw a box with a live mouse into the outside trash bin. It would be like burying someone alive.
I decided to take it off of the property, and let it go beneath a large section of juniper bushes.
Carefully tilting the box away from me as slowly opened the lid, the mouse barely moved.
It must have been injured (from its play session with Kai) or poisoned (from the numerous agents my mother-in-law spreads around the house).
With compassion, I gingerly slid the slow-moving body out of the box and underneath the bushes.
It was hidden well, on a bed of pine needles behind some cantaloupe-sized rocks. Only the ribcage moved to the rhythmic, shallow breath of this little creature.
A few tears crept down my cheeks as I said a blessing for the mouse, and its life well-lived.
Now, you might have a stronger constitution than me. You might be able to handle animals, and death, without blinking an eye, or almost losing your lunch.
But, as I watched that little mouse taking its last breaths of life, I couldn't help but think of my mother-in-law doing the same in a hospital bed just an hour away.
I appreciate her life, and all that she has taught me.
I value her fortitude, courage, and ability to make critical decisions.
I recognize her contribution to us all as she has adventured through this human experience.
This past week has been a blur, but one thing stands out in my mind with absolute clarity: It's important to tell those we love how we feel about them.
Not later today.
Not tomorrow, or the next time we see them.
Not on their death bed, when the chance for reconciliation and harmony are long gone.
Talk to them now. Call someone your love. Tell them how much they mean to you. Thank them for who they are, and the joy they bring to your life.
We all have our quirks, and things that annoy our friends, family, co-workers, and probably the world-at-large. But, we're all unique, and we're all human.
We have the same core--which is love--and we are continually looking for ways to give and receive of this amazing gift.
So, share your love today.
Let it out. Let it shine.
And, savor the fact that you have the amazing capacity to do so!