Just a quick post to let you all know our little squirrel gave up his fight over the weekend. After surviving a hawk and a fall from his nest, it seems he most likely wasn’t able to fight off a deep infection from the wound, something we couldn’t see with the naked eye. We even went back and found his nest, torn apart and abandoned, another sibling nearby whose demise was days sooner.
We tried to speculate on what happened, and oddly enough on Sunday I sat down to study one of my herbalism class DVD’s. Not 15 seconds after I started into it, herbalist Michael Moore started explaining how if you get a scratch on your arm, the lymph node further up the arm will fight off things such as a staph infection. It goes away and you never know you had it. If you don’t have a good immune system, the lymph will swell and eventually you can end up with blood poisoning and even die. Michael was talking about humans right then, but he sure answered my questions. We’d noticed the squirrel had swelling about an inch above the wounds. I wish I’d started him on echinacea right away, but I honestly didn’t think he’d make it as long as he did. Of course that hindsight is always 20/20.
When I was young and would lose an injured animal that somehow ended up in my care, I would be heartbroken and mourn the loss. Now I seem to have grown in my understanding of how nature works, and how it takes its course whether we intervene or not. I’m sad, I’ll admit. We only had him a week, and we were used to the squeaks he made when hungry, and it was quite an experience to be there the moment his eyes opened for the first time. We even discussed where we’d release him, how old he’d have to be, what he’d need to eat to get him strong, all in the hopes that he’d make it. But in the end I knew there was always that chance he wouldn’t hang around. I’m glad, all the same, that we gave it a try. Walking past him on the sidewalk last week wouldn’t have made any of us feel very good today. And I hope my son got to learn a lesson in the value of life, that no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, there’s something special there. Even in a little squirrel.