I heard a strange noise outside overnight and at first thought, it sounded like our local bandicoot rummaging around the back garden but my cat was going nuts trying to find the noise. He’s also a good signal that something isn’t right in our immediate vicinity but that usually has something to do with another animal. I came out into the backyard to see what it was and while it sounded a little like the bandicoot, there was something that made me think otherwise.
I silently watched and waited. One of our regular nocturnal visitors, a brush-tailed possum was on the ground under the bird of paradise plants. This was unusual. I have gotten to know these little furry visitors and they’re routines, and this one does go on the ground but close to the tree which is about 8 feet away from the plants. I’d never seen him in this area. And then I noticed his back legs go out from underneath him and I knew something was wrong.
I went in and sent a message to my sister saying that I thought it was injured or in distress, she asked what it was doing to worry me. I went to look at it again but this time my heart almost stopped when I found it laying on its back. I told her I thought it was dying. She came to look at it and then we agreed to phone the wildlife rescue people for advice. She told me a number of things could’ve gone wrong but to go check it, if it was still alive, catch it and secure it and call back, or if it had died and was female, check the pouch for a living baby. By the time we’d gone back to check it, the poor little love had shuffled from this mortal coil. *sobs*
It turned out to be male so no need to call the wildlife rescue mob back. We were told to dispose of it the best way we saw fit.
I know this happens, everyone/thing dies. Whether it’s natural causes, an accident or worse, it’s the way of the world but it sucks and feels so rough at times. The weird thing is animal deaths affect me more than human ones in a sense. That’s not to say I’m not upset by people dying – I AM! But there’s something about an animal or pet death that really cuts me deeply.
Now before you speak cross words to me, dear reader, I need to explain the above a little better. I’ve been conditioned to cope better with a diseased person, I worked in the funeral trade some years ago, in the mortuary, preparing bodies. I’ve seen more than my fair share but as I mentioned, you get conditioned to seeing them. Naturally, if the death is closer to home, it impacts me more but overall I can take it in my stride.
But life goes on, I just wish I could erase what I saw. It died so quickly after I first spotted it, I doubt there was anything we could’ve done. I just can’t unsee it and my stupid brain keeps playing it on repeat.
Possum image: Brisbane City Council