True heroes, they are among us. What does a hero look like to you?
I was driving along yesterday on an ordinary day with an ordinary trip to the grocery store – or so I thought. All of a sudden I saw a flash of black and white running crouched down into traffic. I heard the squeal of brakes and then that undeniable sound of a small body being crushed under a mass of steel. My car was moving but my hands had gone to my face in shock and terror as I saw not one wheel of the truck go over this cat but now the second one. All throughout I was yelling, “no, no, nooooo!”
The next thing I said to myself was, ‘why isn’t that guy stopping?’. I know we’re on a busy road and traffic is waiting but come on! Are you just going to leave the cat there? The cat that is still half alive, trying to get up but can’t because it’s insides have been crushed? I was furious. Balling my eyes out in a hot rage and immense sadness, I throw my hazards on not caring who’s behind me and I approach the cat. He was taking his last breaths as I picked him up. His insides felt like jello; there was no rib cage anymore and yet I held him close to me feeling the heat from his body. The minute I set him down on the grass, blood started pouring from his nose like a slow dripping faucet and his eyes glazed over. He had no tags and was probably a stray but I cried over him like he was my own.
Soon after I heard a voice. When I looked back to my car, I noticed another lady had pulled up and was now on the phone. I walked over to her to find out who she was calling; she was getting the number for a vet clinic but I said, “sweetie, he’s already dead. We need to call to have the body picked up”. At this point, me and this kind stranger named Celine dialed 311, she handed me the phone and I gave the details through my tears. She watched me quietly as I talked. Every few seconds I looked over at her and we shared a moment; a moment of understanding that said, you get me, my pain and this moment. You stopped when no one else would….thank you.
What a wonderful coincidence that I got a 311 operator who is a fellow cat lover and a truly compassionate soul. After describing the situation, I know she understood, felt my pain and though it was after hours, she immediately sent the call to Bylaw to have it handled. I said, “please hurry, the magpies are starting to land around him.” I remember being so mad at these magpies! Mad at them like I was mad at the drivers that didn’t stop. What is your problem?! Don’t you have any respect for the dead?!? Then there was the guy that had the audacity to honk at us because our having stopped meant he had to take an extra 30 seconds to filter into another lane. Yeah I know buddy, life’s tough….
Following the call I tried to go to Safeway but all I did was sob in the parking lot and realized I couldn’t even shop and needed to go home. The whole way home I was asking God aloud, “why did you want me to see that? What was the point of that?” Then all of a sudden I got this flash about compassion. Lately I’ve been giving myself a hard time that I don’t feel as kind as I could be, that in fact I could stand to be a lot nicer to people and in this moment, as my heart flooded with compassion for this cat that I didnt even know, I realized that exactly where I am is exactly where I need to be. My heart is soft, loving and kind and any other message to the contrary is a lie.
When I arrived home I needed to talk to someone. With my parents unavailable, I sent a text to two friends and within minutes they had both called me back. How loved I felt! This was a true measure of friendship for me – the people that come when I cry out a S.O.S. call for help when I feel stranded in my soul. We had great conversations infused with love, compassion and eventually laughter and as I fell asleep I was overwhelmed by the greatness of these true, everyday heroes around me.
Heroism doesn’t have to be a firefighter or a soldier on the front lines of war; they can be found on the side of the street, on the other end of a phone call or in the heart’s of many people found on this planet. In a world where we shut each other out, confined to our bubbles of existence, these are the people with the blinders off and their eyes wide open – open to you and open to me right at the moment when we need them. May the Lord bless these souls.
Do you have a story to tell about your own personal hero? I would love to hear it.
Love and hugs, Christine:)