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This was originally written by me in 1993 about an incident that occurred almost 15 years prior to the writing.
It was early morning and I was having trouble going back to sleep, it was earlier than I wanted to get out of bed yet, obviously, later than my body
wanted to sleep. I don’t know about other people but this is the condition in which I have my most meaningful conversations with myself, and God.
As I was lying there this morning I happened to remember an incident that occurred nearly 15 years ago. It has crossed my mind several times in
those 15 years, usually in the early morning hours like today, yet today I think something useful has finally come from an incident whose remembrance
always causes me to feel remorse and sorrow. As incidents go it wasn’t much. It took up less than an hour of my life, but it has shaped how I look
at life since that day.
One of my children had brought a very sick kitten home to me to help it. I don’t think I have ever seen an animal that was sicker and still alive.
Its eyes were crusted over, it’s fur was filthy and matted, it was lying on it’s side and the only signs that it was still alive was an almost
imperceptibly breath and an occasional twitch. As if that weren’t enough it had what appeared to be maggots crawling out of its rectum. I had to
make a decision; a decision that has turned out to be, in retrospect, one of the most painful I have ever made. I decided to put this poor creature
out of it’s misery by drowning it. On the surface this sounds like a simple procedure, you take this wretched creature out to the back yard and dunk
it into a 5 gallon pail of water for a few minutes and it’s all over. Let me warn you right now that if you ever have to make a decision like this,
do not make it lightly. Committing the act is not that easy and living with it is even harder. First of all, when this nearly dead kitten takes its
first breath of water it musters a surprising amount of strength and it suddenly becomes obvious, it wants to live. But now I have added a pair of
lungs full of water to its other troubles. Now I have to finish the job in spite of this poor kittens desire to live. It is now past the point of no
return. If I felt that it didn’t have a chance before it certainly doesn’t have one now. I am certain that it was only a brief time before the
kitten quit struggling and died, yet it felt like an eternity. I have tried, to this day, to fool myself into thinking that the choice I made was the
right, and only logical, choice; but it wasn’t. Now I have to live with the memory of this life God placed briefly in my care and I didn’t even
try to save it.
I mentioned in the beginning that something useful might have finally come out of this incident. If what I am about to say helps even one of God’s
creatures, or one of God’s children, to find life and joy where none was thought possible then that poor wretched kitten’s life, and untimely
death, will not have been in vain.
How many times do we come across someone who is sick in the soul; their self image is so low that they feel less than worthless. Life has dealt them
blows, physical or emotional, that they may never recover from without help. Yet we judge them as hopeless, and maybe they are, but we walk away
without even trying to help. We feel that we can’t afford the time, or we don’t want to get involved. Maybe we tried once before and it didn’t
work so we use this as justification for not trying again. Maybe we even got hurt a little in the process, and because of this we have hardened our
hearts to the needs of others.
May I respectfully suggest that if you have suffered a little pain or inconvenience, or are afraid of doing so, it is insignificant compared to the
pain suffered by one who is so beaten down by life that they may never get back up without help. A little pain and inconvenience will disappear under
the flood of joy you will feel at seeing one of God’s children take flight on wings you have helped to heal.
We are faced with choices on almost a daily basis to help, or not to help. Most of them carry little or no cost to us, giving directions to someone
who is lost, donating a little money to charity, sending a get well card to a sick friend, cheering up someone who is a little down, yet these also
carry little reward. Remember this, it is the hard choices we make in life that have the greatest potential for reward; or remorse if we choose
© 2012 Dennis M. Burnett
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edit on 9/11/12 by masqua because: Removed email address