I spotted him in a parking lot, crouched down in the middle of the stone-specked cement. At first, I thought he might have been dead. He was so still, even as I approached. But as I got closer, I could see that he was breathing. A scared baby mouse, unsure of his next move or why he was where he was. He was just in the middle of the pavement, small and frightened and frozen, hoping someone would help.
I bent down to examine him. He did not appear injured. Just at a loss, unexpectedly there in the open, on the hard and strange terrain of a business plaza parking lot. So whether it was a hawk or a heel or a Honda, something bad was very likely going to befall him. And while he couldn't comprehend the specifics, he knew his situation was not good.
Clearly, I had to help him.
Getting a plastic cup, I prepared to scoop him into it. A man saw what I was doing and called out to me: "He's probably eaten some poison. Even if he didn't, mice don't live long. Don't bother helping him. He's already dead."
I suddenly felt like I was in the middle of one of those Chicken Soup for The Soul books. I wanted to say something snappy, or referential, like "This is a starfish situation. And I'm going to do what I can to make a difference for this one!"
Instead I just said, "Well, you never know. Anyway I don't want him to get hurt out here, so I'm going to take him to the field and give him a shot."
The man shrugged, and reiterated with a smile - not cruel, but matter-of-fact: "He'll die anyway."
Won't we all.
So I put the mouse in the cup, and walked with him to a field, away from the cement and parking lot, hawks and heels and Hondas, and business men who have already written off small and frightened things.
We don't know, of course, what happened to him after I put him down in the field. I hope he lives a long and happy mouse-life. It's all fleeting, and who knows? Even if I bought him a couple of days, in the one to two year life expectancy of a field mouse, that's some quality time.
But whatever the outcome, I had to do something. I saved him because I have a soft spot for animals, even the ones I wouldn't want to find in my pantry. I saved him because even if his fate was inevitable, letting a little baby mouse just sit terrified in a parking lot seemed callous. I saved him because two years ago, on that very day, I was the one who almost died.
And one of the very first things to come out of the mouth of the man who pulled me from my vehicle was "Girl, I saw you die. I saw you die twice. I came to get you out of this truck but I knew you were already dead."
He was wrong, thank God. Two years ago, on October 4, against all odds, I was not dead. I was just in the middle of the pavement, small and frightened and frozen, hoping someone would help.