Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go

     The sun chose to stay abed on Thursday morning to avoid the leaden overcast October sky. It was one of those days that, having given itself over into self-pity, decide to drip away through all the chilly hours that remain. Thursday is the day before Friday and Friday is garbage day so Thursday morning’s tasks predictably covered preparations for the impending pick up and, most unexpectedly, a shocking glimpse into the mysteries of the universe.     

     The gilded doors to the unknown plane, oddly enough, swung open above the white hex tiled floor of my upstairs bathroom. As some of you may already know the unexplained lurks within the walls of my historical residence, in particular the back stairwell and upstairs bathroom. One might think I should be well acquainted with the mysteries of existence or lack there off. I would disagree and I must say that I am convinced that there will never be a time that a cynic’s heart will find me unaffected by the spans that breach and join distant worlds together.

     Thursday morning, the key that opened the door just a crack was my son’s hedgehog, Joe MacHedgie. I’m still not sure what happened. I could make a semi-educated guess. Joe was seriously overweight, he had a stubborn temperament and he was a slave to his own nature. Joe was a grumpy spiky Walter Mathieu of a beast. A foul-mouthed house gnome, Joe held a special place in my heart despite his temperament and abusive vocabulary of grunts and hisses. When Joe was young he was a playmate and active member of our family collective. Time and the teenage years sent Joe the way of "painted wings and giant rings" and almost overnight he disappeared into Puff’s distant cave. Certainly still loved in an abstract way but not always remembered.

     Joe was absolutely filthy, covered in newsprint ink and his own excrement that he’d managed to smear all over himself while he waited for me to clean his pen (he definitely knew how to make a statement when he was displeased). An unscheduled bath in the porcelain shallows was the obvious solution. Hedgehogs are great swimmers. Their quills act like a little life jacket to help keep them buoyant. Never the less Joe had never liked baths and his already stormy mood picked up speed and became a full-blown hurricane as the ablutions commenced.

     Joe stood in 2 inches of water at the deep end of the tub as I squeezed the facecloth above his head. Angry as always he hissed as the tepid water trickled over his face. He ducked his head into the water but that only served to irritate him more. As I continue to wash he worked himself into quite a state. I squeezed more water over his head and he curled into a ball with his head in the water again. The span of two breaths and I told him not to be so silly and rolled him over. He uncurled and looked at up at me his head just up out of the water. I picked him up and told him to snap out of it. I chided him, telling him that it was only a bath and if he hadn’t gotten so dirty he wouldn’t have needed one.

     Lying on his back in the towel Joe’s face contorted. He took a deep breath and his mouth opened wider than I’d ever seen. He cried out in a voice I’d never heard before and I realized that this was no normal temper tantrum. His head lolled back as his tongue extended out like some horrible cartoon joke.

     Panic-stricken I was caught, held by his eyes. They opened wider, and then wider still. For the first time in the hand span of what had been his life he was focused, seeing, really seeing…something. Mesmerized I watched emotions chase across his face, wonder or horror, certainly not fear, maybe surprise. His dark eyes were impossibly black and wider still, so full of visions. The whole sky could be lost in that inky distance. He looked inside me, through me and beyond. Full up with the universe the key broke and the door began to close. Wild and fast, the darkness emptied out like the line of a reel on a rod that’s been hit hard and fast from the cool weedy depths below or the tail of a kite that’s broken its line and flung itself across the sky. The door slammed shut and Joe’s head sagged forward, eyes drooping in an eternal slumber, angry no more. The rod snapped back, the broken string fell to the ground as fish and kite disappeared into the great unknown.

 

     Someone once wrote that death was so frightening because it was so ordinary and it happened everyday. As I stood shocked, full of profound emotion at all that had transpired, I did not feel fear but a lack of comprehension. What had been was now no more. All that was left, the broken rod, the string and the bobbin, was a pale shadow of the journey. Now after days of reflection on what I had seen and the context in which it was shown I could never call any death ordinary. For in this "small" death so to speak I had seen my own. The details and effects will differ but still in the end all that will remain is the snapped rod, the broken string and the bobbin it was once wrapped on.

 

It did not seem at all ordinary to me

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11 thoughts on “Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go

  1. Goodness…..what a compelling story. I witnessed both my parents deaths and I am not afraid of dying. I look at it as a beginning of a new and great adventure.

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  2. Good evening! Just stopped by to say a quick hello! I have had a rough couple of days, but, coming along fine! Almost back to normal. Well, normal for me!! Hah hah! Drop by again soon! Brutus

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  3. @RuthAlthough I\’ve been to many funerals this is the first time I have actually seen a being leave this earth. I\’m still not sure what I really think about the whole thing.@BrutusI\’m sorry to hear that the ride\’s been bumpy lately (I hope it wasn\’t your dad!). Glad things are getting back to normal.@ToadIt was very sad and very frightening. I\’m still not really sure what happened. I mean I know what happened but I don\’t…it\’s hard to explain. I woke up the hubby to tell him and when he touched my shoulder I realized I was vibrating with this intense indescribable emotion. I can\’t even imagine what Joe was thinking or feeling.@AmyHe probably sucked in a bit of water when he put his head under but I think it was some sort of heart attack in the end. Overweight hedgehogs are plagued with all sorts of heart problems. It was hard to tell how overweight he was because lately he\’d been so grumpy that he\’d roll up into a ball whenever you picked him up. He stayed in his house a lot too. I liked Joe a lot. I totally freaked out. He had this ball and a big transformer doll he liked to play with so we buried him with them. Actually I think I\’m still sort of freaked out.SorryLMy son actually made a little photo tribute to Joe\’s better days on his site if you\’re interested.http://spaces.msn.com/members/ugotjacksquat/

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  4. That was sad and scary too, a lovely piece of writing though.I came over from Craigs space, as he always tells me how much he loves reading your space! His recommendation was well worth it! This place is great. It reminds me of a shell encrusted memory box my Grandma once had full of pictures, postcards and letters. With the occassional precious thing thrown in! ( no Gollum voices need be made! ) Pebbles or shells or a dried out leaf!! Sitting on her lap looking at the "things" and her reading the letters out to me is one of my earliest memories. Your space has reminded me of that!?!I shall pop back if thats ok. Its nice here.Willo x

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  5. Re: your comment on yellow/mellow, I too grew up with a septic tank and know that ditty very well. I didn\’t really know what a hedgehog looked like but now I do.

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  6. Just got this sent to me and wanted to pass it along to my special friends. The ABC\’s of Friendship! A Real Friend, Accepts you as you are. Believes in "you". Calls you just to say "HI". Doesn\’t give up on you. Envisions the whole of you (even the unfinished parts). Forgives your mistakes. Gives unconditionally. Helps you without asking. Invites you over. Just wants to "be" with you. Keeps you close at heart. Loves you for who you are. Makes a difference in your life. Never Judges. Offers support. Picks you up. Quiets your fears. Raises your spirits. Says nice things about you. Tells you the truth when you need to hear it. Understands you. Values you. Walks beside you. X-plains things you don\’t understand. Yells when you won\’t listen and Zaps you back to reality. Remember, a friend will help you move. A Real Friend will help you move the Body! This Page Is Designed To help you Find Out How Many Online Friends You Have… And to make new online friends! Just forward this page to everyone you consider an online friend, or anyone you would like to have as an online friend… Then see how many you receive back! Be good… Plenty kissex…Cindy x

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  7. @Willo What a lovely thing to say. You\’re welcome anytime.:)@SilentJust knowing there are people who understand helps a lot. I\’m not one of those who treat their pets like people but Joe was a part of my family. It was very hard.@RuthWe have city water where I live but no municipal sewers so septic is still the only option. I don\’t think my son would ever go for that old ditty though. ;)@CherylIt was actually good to get it out and written down because the process gave me a little bit of distance which was necessary as I was totally overcome.@CindyHope everything is well with you

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