My husband broke his foot about a week ago. While his friends are encouraging him to say he did it while competing in the Olympics, like most injuries, it was sustained in a far more simple, day to day way – he misjudged the edge of a concrete step. It sucks, but these things happen. That’s why they are called accidents. To make matters worse, he then immediately got his first-ever case of gout in the same foot. His frustration and pain levels have been running at about a level 11.
On the very same day we found out his foot was truly broken, we returned to the house from Urgent Care and while I was letting the dogs out, I discovered a possum in our backyard acting strangely. I quickly got the dogs inside and decided to check on it again in about 45 minutes. At that point, the poor thing was wobbling around in circles, surrounded by flies, clearly not right. I called local Animal Control and found out they only deal with domestic animals. However, a police officer could come over and if the animal had the potential to be rabid, they had authority to dispose of it.
I hated to have to let that happen, as possums are good critters. While some think they are ugly, I think they are pretty cute. They are avid tick-eaters, also a big benefit. But I couldn’t risk our dogs going after it, especially if it was ill, and well, the thought of my dog attacking it was a really big ewww. So the cops came and after observing, put the poor thing out of its misery. We later did some research and determined that possums rarely if ever get rabies or distemper (has something to do with their body temperature, learn something new every day), so we are thinking perhaps he’d been hit by a car and had managed in his disoriented/injured/ill state to get as far as our backyard. I suppose what we did was the humane thing to do.
The police officers (two of them actually arrived to the scene, must have been a slow day in town) then informed us “we kill it, you bury it.” I looked at my husband, in his newly acquired crutches and air cast, then at my son, who was already turning green at the thought, and realized that deed would be mine. I mustered up my ol’ country girl roots, armed myself with boots, mask and bleach and laid the little dude to rest, hoping he had a happy and healthy family in the woods who could carry on without him.
Bad things happen to good critters. And people. It seems really unfair and hurts, but it is part of life. Sometimes those bad things are as “minor” as a broken foot or the flu, and sometimes they are as horrible as critical illnesses or what the people of Afghanistan and Haiti are dealing with right now. No matter the perceived level of bad, for those who are affected, it is awful — and all they can focus on is trying to get through the day and hope for some comfort and kindness from others.
I am blessed with overall good health and a pretty high level of patience. (Quick, all of you knock on wood for me, wouldja?) Somewhere between disposing of the dead animal, picking up meds for my husband, tending to the dogs, and helping take out the trash it dawned on me that life is about balance. Those of us who are able, need to take care of those who are not. My older brother was blind and had a myriad of health issues. Even though he was remarkably independent most of his life, he did rely on those of us who were sighted and more able-bodied to help him when he needed it. In his later years, as his health deteriorated, he relied on me and some amazing folks at various medical and housing facilities to help him live the best he could. Many, many of you out there are caregivers for someone. I believe God keeps some of us healthy and strong when others are not so we can be there for them. To be there not only emotionally and physically, but to be their voice and advocate when they can’t manage by themselves.
That said, being a caregiver can be a bit like being the sober DD at a party. It comes with a lot of responsibility, it can be annoying, frustrating and exhausting, and sometimes you just want to get away from it all and go home (or my favorite daydream, be on a tropical beach somewhere). But it is what we do because it is the right thing to do.
Right now, my husband needs me to step up to the plate and do some of his traditional man-stuff around the house, as well as listen to him vent and complain. If the tables were turned, he’d have to pick up the slack. I’m sure there are things I’m doing for him that he would do differently, just as I know if it was the other way around, I’d have to be ok with a different level of meal prep and house cleaning. Sometimes, we just have to let go and just get by.
Lord knows, anything can happen – like I said, bad things happen to good critters. So if I can be a really good critter, then when I need the help, someone will be there for me too. Actually, they already are. I have an amazing network of friends and family (mostly RW’s) who I know have my back and help keep me strong and I hope I do the same for them.
Providing care and support doesn’t have to be in the form of grand gestures or cost a lot of money. The small things can be big things to someone in need. So if you are one of the healthy, stable, able souls out there, first be grateful. Then be ready to lend a helping hand (or foot) as needed for a friend, relative or even stranger. Karma will like it.
Some days we are the one who need kindness, care and support.
Other days, we have to be the one to bury the possum.