dampscribbler: (animecon)
[personal profile] dampscribbler
We saw a mallard, a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I, out for a walk on a day when it wasn't raining. The mallards have been flying around, acting kind of crazy. One day two of them, about three miles apart, landed on the road less than 300 feet in front of my car. They worried me.

This mallard that we saw was in our neighborhood. He came out onto the sidewalk, then walked back into the mulch in the yard between two houses. He seemed troubled, like the others, and I made a joke about the wild mallards getting all up in peoples' lives. We came closer, and he lingered near the sidewalk, taking a step or two away but allowing the distance between us to close.

On the ground between him and us was his mate. Her neck was broken, her entrails strewn on the mulch. There was nothing we could do.

We had been chattering, my husband and I, but our talk quieted. Dog or cat, I said. Eric thought a car.

We walked on, and now were silent.

I found myself wishing I'd said something to the male. Offered comfort, sympathy, condolences. I felt he was hoping we could help. I wanted to apologize for not being able to. I thought he would appreciate the acknowledgement. I felt we were rude to just walk away. There was a sort of palpable grief there.

We're all so closely knit together. It all seems to matter, now. How we treat our fellow creatures. They'll keep dying, and so will we, but that's no reason to be cold about it, to deny grief or love, to pretend we can erase the existence of what was there and isn't.

I feel we failed. But mostly that's not about the mallard. Most creatures have -- a skill? an instinct? -- for grieving and moving on that we humans have developed the capacity to subvert. Our desire for reasons, explanations, understanding, can keep us in grief for a long time.

I feel we failed.

Because one month ago today, a smart, talented, beautiful little girl in our community ended her own life, and none of us saw it coming. None of us knew of her pain, her sickness. None of us stopped it. And though I can with clear conscience say to her parents "this wasn't your fault," because I know about mental illness and depression and the tricks it plays, and though I myself hadn't even seen this child since November, still I feel that somehow I was part of the problem, or at least should have been part of what stopped it.

I feel like we failed, all of the adults of this community, all of these good people who love our own children so dearly that our love bleeds over to their classmates, we who are so dedicated to protecting these bright lights and yet one went out, and I am so so so afraid of failing again.

If they knew how much we loved them, really knew, I believe it would be a terrible burden to them. We have to bear our love for our children because the weight of it is too great for their tender little legs and arms and souls to carry. We willingly bear that love, but we depend on it to carry them through.
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