There comes a time when you have to kill something, dead.
I remember when I was about 9 or 10, we had a bunch of farm cats around. Occasionally, one of the little ones would come into trouble–it would suffer as a result. My dad’s approach? Take it in the back and pummel it with a shovel. I cried ceaselessly when this would happen–until I was dizzy with confusion and ultimately exhausted.
Now, as an adult, I just think of my Dad—his vision, the strength he would muster, to get right in there on the edge of life and death of a small soul—guarding his heart and lifting that shovel. I know my dad believes in the soul of all life–to him, even an ant is worth saving from a drown in a puddle or a glass of water. The point is, there’s no difference between saving a drowning animal and killing a suffering body, dead–either way, the soul is again set to live again, in one form or the next.
I wonder if he looked at the kitten, because today, I didn’t look at my ex when I told him it was over. I just picked up the phone when it rang—as if grabbing firmly the handle of a shovel—and as he asked me when we’d meet, I swung the answer over the place in his heart where I once seemed to reside. A witness to two months of experiment slamming to a close: the words “no, no thanks,” rolled from my tongue, transferred through the phone and vibrated his ear drum–silence, then a completely emotionless “Hmm, okay, well, I’ll just use my hand then.”
The sophomoric innuendo barely made me flinch–and this reaction on my part, in itself, had me realizing how on the edge I was–far, far away from the standards I hold a man to. Another rebound after divorce, wrote my chalk on the sidewalk of reason. He made it easy with those crass, haphazard words, for I felt almost nothing–as if I decided so cleanly that watching something, like a relationship between two people with a wildly different set of standards, suffer like that is far more a travesty than killing it.
And now we are free, the love we felt is unbound by the stunted, suffering relationship. A sense of vitality is returning to my body and mind.
This is how we do on the farm–kill it dead, set it free.