A few nights ago, I had a powerful dream. I was pulling out of my driveway when I saw a fox that had been stuck by a car lying dead in the road. As I pulled forward, I saw several more dead foxes strewn across the road, along with branches and debris blocking the way. Beyond that, the road was crumbling, making it completely impassable. I was overcome with grief and confusion, and I felt completely paralyzed.
Truth be told, that’s not unlike what I have been feeling in my waking moments these days. Last night, I found myself awash in deep sadness, and before running out to do an errand, I glanced at myself in the mirror, only to see the big, blue eyes of a sad, little girl looking back at me. Nevertheless, I got into my car and headed out into the night.
A few minutes into my drive, I saw a small form on the side of the road. For some reason, I felt overwhelmingly compelled to pull over – desperate, in fact – with no thought to my original reason for going out in the first place. I was there solely for whatever lay there in the darkness.
I stepped out of my car and walked over to the hunched mound. It was a fox. I could tell right away that it was dead, even though it looked completely intact. It’s sharp eye stared blankly into the blackness surrounding us. I gently stroked its fur, and found the body still slightly warm to the touch.
I frequently stop to move dead animals off the road, if only in the hopes of showing them some small shred of respect and dignity. But instead of moving the fox off the shoulder of the road, I picked her up and put her in my car. I just couldn’t bear to leave her there.
Back home, I pulled her limp body out of the trunk, and brought her into the light. Holding her in my arms, I admired her thick, red fur, the velveteen of her ears, the playfulness of her whiskers, her long, delicate legs, and of course, her beautiful, bushy tail. She smelled like a someone’s pet dog, friendly and familiar.
I carried the fox through the trees and to the edge of the woods. A mist clung to the air, and I swear that I could feel spirits swirl around me. An owl hooted in the near distance.
I laid the fox down on the ground and sat with her for a long time, stroking her fur, and reflecting on what her life might have been like – as a mischievous kit, a powerful hunter, and perhaps as a mother. I laid down next to her, listening to the sound of cars in the distance, and found myself crying softly into the earth. What a harsh world we live in. Why does a creature so beautiful have to die so needlessly? Why are people so out of sync with nature? And why is there so much suffering?
There are no answers to these questions. I guess all we can do is our best to appreciate and respect the gift of life – not just our own, but the life of all beings.