Monday, October 10, 2016

A Fall From Nowhere

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A little more than forty-eight hours ago, Chris and I went downstairs to try to troubleshoot a new storage plan for Noah's adaptive equipment.  Cumbersome and bulky there is no really easy way to just tuck in a corner until it is needed in Noah's day.  After less than a five minute conversation about it, we turned around to see this little grey spot on our blond tiled floor.  As we approached it was pretty evident what it was - a baby mouse only days old, with fur but it's eyes still closed.  I thought for sure it was deceased - it wasn't moving, still and quiet it just laid there.  Until I got closer and realized it was breathing. 

My heart sank.  What on earth was I going to do with an infant abandoned mouse?  And I knew where there is one there is usually more. A thousand things ran through my mind.  Mice can carry viruses  - and what do I do with a breathing baby mouse?  In the moment I asked Chris to get a Tupperware dish and poke holes in it.  Deep down knew I only had one real option for someone like me - I had to try to save it. 

There was absolutely no trace of any other mice in the basement.  Because Noah is so medically fragile our home is pretty spotless - or at least I break my back trying to make it that way for him.  There were no droppings - no signs of anything.  It was as if he fell from the middle of nowhere - and so he did.  Upon dragging out a ladder and evaluating the top of the wall, we found a small hole in a gas line that led to the fireplace, a likely source of entry and another deceased litter mate on the ledge.  This little mouse had fallen eight feet to the hard tiled ground and survived against all odds.  A miracle in itself - I convinced myself that was a sign that this mouse had a bigger destiny - and that without a doubt it was meant to survive.

A rodent - but one with a purpose. 

Is there such a thing?  My mind said there was.

A tremendous detour in my day I rushed to the pet store, quickly threw down $25 that we needed for weekly groceries, for a critter keeper, puppy formula and paint brushes for feeding, I came home to save the day and accepted the adoption of the orphaned mouse challenge.  I figured the first twenty-four hours were critical.  If I could make it past that, then he'd be home free.  My goal:  To nurse it to independence and set it free.   I could do this.  After all I'm an expert caregiver.  Internet research said feed it every two hours, use a paint brush dipped in formula, rub its belly with a q-tip for digestion... not too bad.  And I can't deny it - I added extra tender loving strokes so it didn't feel lonely and knew that it was in some way cared about.

Although I was slightly worried as I thought maybe it might have a bloody nose, I decided it had just scratched itself accidentally and was minor.  It was very active, healthy, thriving and strong.  A fighter.  Feeds were going really well, and I faithfully woke up in the middle of the night - even in between Noah's needs in the night, which further contributed to my level of already existing sleep deprivation - just for the mouse.   Last night the mouse seemed a little bit more lethargic - but I assumed it was tired and sleeping, still active but slightly more time to get it excited.  The morning still active I gave it breakfast and then without warning it started to gasp, and have labored breathing.  Immediately I was fearful that I had done something wrong - had it aspirated while feeding? And then it just passed away in my hands - just like that.  It was over.

And then this incredibly crushing feeling of failure.  And an immediate question of purpose.  If the mouse had survived falling eight feet, only to pass away two days later, then why did God allow him to survive the fall in the first place?  I told it's little lifeless body how sorry I was.  I ached for it to come back to life. A silly mouse - that I would never want for a pet - yet I was mourning the loss or trying to foster and care for this tiny little life - less than an inch big.  his head no bigger than a fingernail.  A small helpless, blind life.  Gone.

So what is the lesson in all this?  Besides outing me as an overly sensitive and compassionate, if the end result was that it didn't make it - then why did it survive that fall anyway? 

I'm still guarding Luke and Noah's childhood.  As they both inherited their mother's sensitive nature and the overwhelming feelings of the disclosure of death is too much for either of them to process at this age for who they are.  And if I can spare their childhood just a pinch longer from true understanding of it all, then I've bought them a little more time of not to have to worry about thinking about mortality.  That lesson comes all too fast for all of us anyway.  The mouse went to be with it's family is how I explained why it suddenly disappeared from the top of the refrigerator.  A completely acceptable thing for Luke.  He only asked once and it was fine - out of sight out of mind.   Noah looked a few times for it, and then that was fine too.  And as fast as the mouse came into the picture, he left. 

Because of the circumstances I didn't have time for a proper burial - yes I did actually think about it.  I think I felt sorry for myself for most of the day in fact - that looming sense of failure - and because I really put in the effort and thought I'd be able to save it and release it.  Although in reality I worried about that too wondering how it would find shelter in time before it snowed... and perhaps I wouldn't have been able to let go of something so easily that I essentially raised... till let's say spring of next year... who am I really kidding?

I kept peeking in on it kind of hoping that death was not a final diagnosis, wishing for a resurrection - a chance for me to try again - a chance for me to do better.   Issues that I know still haunt me from Noah's birth - a redo - if only I can go back in time I tell myself - it would all be so different.  I could have saved Noah from this fate and birthed at a different hospital, insisted he not go over his due date, insist on an instant c-section not just a 13 hour, natural delivery delay, without a notarized birth plan for hospital staff to hide behind as an excuse for not meeting the standard of care - and the mouse perhaps I could have too also influenced the final outcome. 

But that's the recipe to how we carry guilt.  We carry guilt because we convince ourselves we are somehow to blame for an adverse outcome.  Even when we had nothing at all to do with the end result and it was ultimately out of our hands.

Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.