Born Free USA Blog
Last Friday night I stepped out of my comfort zone of being a “behind-the-scenes” supporter of creative, progressive, environmentally-focused goings-on, putting myself on display as a model in a fantastic runway fashion event called “Haute Trash Fashion.” This incredible fashion show displayed amazing designs by artists from around the world, all made entirely of ... trash. All I can say is, they were all gorgeous and I was simply astounded by how useful (and strangely enough, comfortable!) what we consider to be “trash” can actually be.
Driving home from the event, I ran across a young couple stopped in the middle of the road and apparently in distress. I stopped to ask if everything was OK and the answer was “PLEASE HELP!” As I got out of the car, my heart literally fell when I saw the couple standing over the body of a large opossum who had been struck by another vehicle, just minutes earlier.
I think I said to them something to the effect of “Please don’t be sad, she is gone and the best thing we can do is move her off the street.” The girl just looked at me in horror and pointed beyond the body and that’s when my heart literally left me. For there, scattered across the road, were 14 squirming, naked bodies.
My (very) basic training in wildlife rehabilitation kicked in (with help from a wildlife-expert friend who graciously answered her phone at 12:30 in the morning) and I quickly grabbed a blanket from my trunk, picked up all the tiny bodies, and drove the remaining four blocks home at warp speed. I spent the rest of the night, and well into the morning, trying to save those little lives. I succeeded in nursing only three through the night and when I delivered those to the wildlife rehabilitation center Saturday morning, I found out they were too young to survive much longer either.
As I drove the 30 miles back home, exhausted and upset, I reflected on how the night before had gone from such a thing of creativity and beauty to a full-on nightmare. I was angry that so many people consider urban wildlife like opossums and raccoons and moles and squirrels and birds as, literally, nothing more than “trash” to get rid of — rather than the incredible, essential, beautiful part of life that they all are. I was angry that no one seems to really “get it.” Three hundred people will show up to see trash made into fashion, but only three people stopped to see if they could maybe, just possibly, save a life.
And then I experienced a moment of clarity, and that was when I realized I had been given a gift — a few gifts, in fact. That mother opossum was not hit on purpose and my anger was misdirected. I was actually given the gift of that young couple stopping for that mother opossum. I was given the gift of having the experience to know what to do to at least try and help. I was given the gift of providing those little creatures as much comfort as was possible in their final moments. I was given the gift of holding a life in my hands.
I also was given the gift of realizing that more than three people care — because here I am writing this blog and I am writing it for you — thousands of people who care for, and about, wildlife.
And you are truly the gift. You see wildlife as a creative, gorgeous, astounding gift too. And for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart (which indeed, has been recovered from that spot on the street, and experience has made bigger than ever).