Palliative Care for Ralph the Mouse | By: Lianne Bridges

Lianne Bridges wrote this piece last summer. It is such a lovely story of compassion, she generously offered to share it here! Thank you, Lianne.

“The world we knew as children is still buried within our minds. Our childlike self is the deepest level of our being. It is who we really are, and what is real doesn’t go away.” –Marianne Williamson

Life never ceases to amaze me. I constantly experience synchronicity. And with each experience, I receive transformative healing and awakening. Last Sunday, I was feeling alone in my silent reverie, reflecting back nine months to the day when my husband passed away. Just at that moment, the door burst open and the sounds of excited young boys filled the room. “Mom, we have a mouse. He is almost dead,” stated my 10-year-old son. “It looks like Spirit (our cat) got him.”

When I looked into the faces of my two sons and their friend, I saw such immense compassion and eagerness to help this little injured animal, it took my breath away. I stifled the deeply domesticated voice inside me that wanted to scream, “Get that thing out of my house!” and instead, I asked the boys, “What do you want to do with him?”

Determining that the young mouse didn’t have much of a chance surviving his injuries, they suggested “putting him out of his suffering.” They contemplated this for a moment and then realized that they couldn’t come up with a method that was either humane or that they were willing to carry out themselves. So they opted to “make him comfortable” until he died.

“I know what to do, I know a lot about death,” claimed my son. So the boys proceeded to build a miniature palliative care shoebox for the ailing mouse, decked with soft tissue, food, a “handle with care” sign and lid with air holes (to ensure the cat doesn’t take another go at him).

Once the make-shift palliative care box was complete they did a little quiet contemplation, imagining the mouse in healthier, happier times. When the boys suggested that they move him to the room at the front of the house, Grace filled my little world! My husband had passed away in that room, surrounded by family. Since then, I converted it into a quiet room for meditation and prayer. The fact that the boys recognized the sacredness of the space moved me to tears.

The boys left the mouse, which they named Ralph, to lay quietly, while they went to play. After a half hour, they returned to discover that the mouse had passed on. It was clear that all their mindful preparations had helped them deal with their little mouse’s death. They had already discussed what they would do next. Their options included burying him in the palliative care box, but “that would be wasteful” stated their friend. The next option of burning him and saving his ashes or burning an offering of cheese for the mouse couldn’t pass the “do not play with fire” edict in our household. So, they settled on burying the little mouse (sans box) in the ground, complete with a rock headstone.

When they came back from the woods where they had buried Ralph, they had lemonade and leftover birthday cake, while they discussed their experiences with the mouse. It was amazing how they had reenacted the whole death ritual from comforting the dying to burial and celebration of life, all on their own and in the span of an hour. The fact that the boys were in some way modeling what they had experienced with death in such a positive way touched me deeply.

As they road off on their bikes, putting this incident behind them, I looked at the clock– 2:30 p.m. It was exactly nine months to the hour from when our family said a heart-breaking good-bye to Bob. Then it occurred to me that the universe had offered me a beautiful distraction and a subtle reminder of the interconnectedness of all things in nature and in our lives.

Lianne Bridges, founder of Designing Transformation, is an advocate for social change, a whole systems thinker, a social entrepreneur, writer, world citizen and mother.

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One Response to Palliative Care for Ralph the Mouse | By: Lianne Bridges

  1. Thank you for posting this piece. Coincidently, tomorrow is the anniversary of our marriage, which is one of the most difficult days of the year. You have offered me another lovely distraction and a reminder of the interconnectedness of all things:-)

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