Peace in Burial

Photo by Daniel Watson on

Last week during our morning routine, Hubs called me 4 times before I picked up my cell. I was busy getting the kids ready for school, but 4 calls is enough to make me stop for a second.

“Is everything ok?”

“Yea,” he said. “There’s a dead animal in the yard.”

“Ok,” I said. “I guess you can do something about it when you get home from work later.”

It did not occur to me that this was a big deal. But then I thought about it a bit more.

I didn’t know if Hubs was telling me to warn the kids or if he was warning me. Am I squeamish? Am I easily upset by uncommon sights?”

“Ok,” I repeated and ushered the kids into the car to drive to school.

“Daddy says there is something dead in the yard,” I said.

“Eww,” someone said.

“Sad,” someone else said.

“Weird,” another kid chimed in.

We drove by quickly. I wasn’t in a hurry, but I didn’t want to stare at it either.

The kids each took a cursory glance and then a conversation about death and dying bubbled up from the back seat in which each kid made guesses about what happens after someone dies.

“They go to heaven,” LM3 said, her chipper voice exuding confidence for her memorized preschool response.

“Or nothing happens,” LM1 said.

“No one knows,” LM2 added, “because when you die, you can’t tell anyone what happened.”

“Some people think you come back as a new living thing,” I added.

“Grammy says we all come back as butterflies,” LM2 said.

“Well,” I told them, “You get to think about it and decide whatever you think. No one knows, so it’s pretty much whatever you believe.”

No one asked what I believe and I was thankful.

When I got home from a workout later in the morning, I had forgotten the animal was there. It wasn’t too close to the house…further down the property, kind of out-of-the-way. But I got it into my head that I was going to bury it for Hubs’ sake. I could do it myself, so why not?

I got a shovel and started digging. I committed to the task of the hole before committing to viewing the animal.

After an earlier morning workout, I was sore and tired and maybe a little dehydrated. It took me 20 minutes or so to dig. But I did it, glancing at the pile of fur every now and again to estimate the size the hole should be, without actually getting close to it.

Confirmation: I guess I am a little squeamish.

When the hole looked just right, I brought the shovel with me, committed to not touching whatever lay on our lawn with my bare hands. When. I finally got up close, I saw that it was a pile of fur and skin, stretched and pulled like a pack of animals had already torn into it, and here lay what remained. I didn’t see much blood. No organs. No head. Just a pile of fuzzy, fluffy fur and tight skin that had been sitting out long enough to make the creature unrecognizable.

I picked it up with the shovel and returned it to the earth anyhow, covering the pile with loose soil and forgetting to say a prayer for the end of a life I never knew.

It’s so strange how death can be a huge deal or not a big deal at all. I was afraid to see this animal and when I finally got up close, there was hardly anything left to see. I spend all that time digging, and I’m not even so sure I needed to. Did I deprive other animals of food by burying it? I finished the task wondering how much time I spend thinking and worrying and wondering. I don’t know if I did a good deed or wasted my morning.

Either way, maybe I should remember to pray next time. I took peace in the thought that this animal’s remains might nourish the earth in some way. And I’ll take any peace I can get.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

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