A baby squirrel managed to climb up to my third floor balcony this morning and clung to the edge peering downwards too scared to take the plunge. She remained like that all morning as J and I got ready to leave. I wondered if I could sneak some food for her without terrifying her even more.
Each time I stepped near the French window her body turned taut with fright. I decided to leave her to her own devices. J got her doll over and showed her the trapped squirrel saying sagely "Dolly, look what happens when you wander away from Mommy. Never ever do that, okay ?" J and I agreed that the baby squirrel was in a "lot of trouble" and that we had to find a way to get her back to her Mommy.
After I got to work, I called the maintenance people to ask them to help the squirrel. They promised to have it taken care of promptly. When I got back home in the evening she was still latched to the edge of the balcony look down forlornly - thirsty and hungry all day. I felt a pang of guilt.
I rushed upstairs to see her. By the time I got to the balcony, she was not there anymore. Maybe her limbs had grown numb and she had fallen down. There was no sign of her in the grass below. I was relieved she had survived such a long day, that she had not died on me.
I know her petrified eyes would have haunted me had she died. I still remember one wounded bird that had died in my hands twenty years ago. The way her warm body turned cold and stiff, her fluttering heart stilled.
I wondered then as I do now why this it such a big deal - I am not even a vegetarian. Do I have compassion or don't I ? Do I love life or don't it ? Have I taken more than I have given ? I am merely acting out of guilt ?