"My heart has joined the thousand, for my friend stopped running today" Richard Adams Watership Down
I am sitting here at my desk, it is 3.30am I’m trading the international money markets. It is late at night (or early in the morning) and I’m sitting here wondering if I’m losing my marbles. I’m just putting the finishing touches to my Constantine painting, and I seriously asked him “Constantine, did you really have that pattern of spots on your nose?” He blinks, or is it me? No, he definitely blinked just like in the Beatrix Potter film. I glance over at my other three computer screens all showing currency charts and wonder how far the US dollar is going to drop. Finally, acknowledging that all my trades tonight have been complete disasters (I wanted the dollar to go up) I sigh and look back at him. He, being oblivious to world trade markets, stares back at me from the screen and from his eyes I know beyond a shadow of doubt that these animals have souls, truly.
I’ve written many times before how, despite raising and releasing countless orphans, the few that really stick in my mind are the ones I’ve lost. I wonder why they have tended to possess the mightiest of spirits or have had outstanding personalities. Constantine is one of them and another was Earl.
I lost Earl (stupid term lost I don’t know why I use it) Earl died this morning and his passing defined a whole new level of pain in my life as a carer. Before this morning or rather yesterday morning now, I always thought there couldn’t be anything worse than losing an orphan after battling for months to save it, or after almost a year in care a roo dies just before its time for release. Well, I’ve discovered something worse and that is losing a kangaroo joey someone else has battled to save for months, a joey that up until this morning only had three months to go before release. Telling them, that is worse.
I’d been staging him (term for transitioning from human dependence to independence for release into the wild) during the last couple of months he was putting on weight, had changed his coat, was developing muscle and starting to distance himself from human contact. He was doing really well.
I had absolutely no idea how to tell his foster mum, the person who had poured so much time, love and money into saving this little guy during his early life. To make matters worse she had told me two weeks earlier on her birthday visit to him “…there is always that ‘special’ one, the one you always remember. You know what I mean don’t you?”
My friend Anne says that there is no good way to break such news, whatever you say it will be bad. I’d never had to do anything like this before and I just didn’t know how. So I agonized the whole day waiting for her to return my call and when I began my sentence with “I’ve got some bad news…….” and she immediately exclaimed “NOT EARL!” already sobbing before I could continue, it was one my absolute low points and this is after years of caring for kangaroos.
It’s 5.30am now and later today she is bringing her latest tiny orphan joey’s to me for babysitting whilst she goes away for the weekend and I’m surprised that she still trusts me to do that for her. It wasn’t my fault, but still.
I know life goes on and orphans of all species needing care continue to pour in due to lack of rain, causing all of us to buckle under the strain. Despite this, despite the distraction of new faces needing care desperately, I choose to remember those extra special personalities in my own particular way, and like I have with Constantine, I will eventually paint Earl.
One day I’ll be able to hand a print to Earl’s foster mum and she will remember him, his unique personality, the unusual white tip to his tail, but I hope she also remembers all those joeys that were her successes too, the ones she knew made it to the wild at the end.
I am so sorry…
Samantha "I'm a person who feels I live in paradise and truly love Australia after immigrating here in 2003. I work as a foreign exchange trader, live with my true soul mate, husband Albert. I have a passion for Aussie wildlife and became a registered wildlife carer in 2005 and can say I feel truly privileged to be able to raise and rehabilitate orphan wallaby/kangaroo joeys. I love these creatures with my heart and soul. My dream is to be able to help struggling volunteer wildlife carers, financially, so that they can do what they do best without worrying how to pay the next vet bill"