A Squirrel is Light

My gramma once caught a hummingbird.  She cupped it in her hands and brought it to me so I could see it. It was so tiny. She handled it so carefully. Once I had my fill of looking and got a quick little pet in she let it go. I have no memory of how she got it but I remember how delicate it was and how red the little spot on its throat was. Today I think about that and I realize how unbelievably lucky that catch was. A hummingbird for crying out loud!

I was very young at the time but I am pretty sure that was the point that I realized you could catch a wild thing. If Gramma could catch a hummingbird, surely I could catch a bunny. I would sit patiently holding clovers. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Being a statue. And closer, closer the bunny would come.  So close, but they always took off just before I could grab them. To have and hold a wild thing. To walk outside and have it come running to me.

A dream come true.

Enter Sheldon the squirrel. Poor little thing had been sitting under a dumpster all day calling for it’s mom. A squirrel baby crying for it’s mom is a surprisingly loud chirp. And if that mama is anywhere near, they will come a running. It’s hot out, mom’s not coming, no food all day. My heart hurts a little just thinking about it!

He made it through his first night, despite my logic telling me he would not. (See previous post on how Sheldon landed at my house.) And so I got on the internet to find out what needed to be done to save this little wild thing that had finally come my way. Making my little girl dreams come true.

I estimated his age to be about five weeks and according to the information I found on the internet  he needed to eat every four hours. Formula. With a syringe. Every four hours. So that’s what I did.

I got up as early as 3AM. I stayed up as late as 11PM. I mixed his formula (puppy formula at first, but later, in the underground squirrel network, I discovered a source for formula made for baby squirrels–I know! I couldn’t believe it either). I heated the formula, I tested a drop on my wrist, I kept it warm for the whole feeding, I washed his face thoroughly when done and…I stimulated so he would eliminate…

Yes. Baby squirrels can’t ‘go’ without a little help. So I helped. The best indication of a healthy squirrel is urination and pooping. All the ‘experienced squirrel savers’ on the web knew what healthy squirrel poo poo looked like.  Color, consistency and frequency. It started out dark (mom’s milk) and turned a golden yellow (formula) it needed to be a little pellet, not runny. I learned what to do if there was none, what to do if there was too much.

Why am I telling you so much about squirrel poo poo? Because prior to the saving of Sheldon I had no desire to do anything. I went to bed early. I rarely cooked. Sometimes I didn’t shower. Some days I even skipped brushing my teeth. I wore sweatpants or pajamas all day long. I ate bags and bags of Oreo cookies. I didn’t leave the house unless I had to. Truthfully, I knew that I wasn’t in a good spot and I knew what healthy looked like so just when someone (my husband) might notice that I hadn’t been practicing healthy habits I would rally and do enough to make me look like I was normal, like there was no depression, like I was a happy girl.

Because this depression was mine. As sick as it sounds, as much as I needed to escape it, I didn’t want it to be discovered. I didn’t want anyone calling me out. Telling me I needed to let it go. Pointing out flaws. Depression thrives in secret. Depression is a powerful lover. Depression is possessive. It wants you alone all the time so it can court you. And despite its mistreatment of you, you want it to stay. Because it’s what you know.

This little squirrel needed me. He needed me at a time that I didn’t feel needed. I am telling you that I had been praying for motivation. Pleading that ‘something’ would come into my life that would make me want to take part in the world again. I did not know that Sheldon was that something, but he was. Now I got out of bed. I took care of him. And I started taking care of me. I didn’t want Bob to think that my lack of self care, house care, home care, was because I was spending too much time with the squirrel.  Instead of protecting the depression, I was now protecting the squirrel.

Above all else, I didn’t want him to make me give up the squirrel. Because to lose the light would mean going back to darkness.

**To cover my butt I must say that all rehabbers encouraged me to find a licensed rehabber to take care of Sheldon. Keeping a squirrel is against the law.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heidi Nichols
    Jul 27, 2017 @ 09:26:11

    Thank you for not leaving me hanging too long. I knew the Sheldon story because we had talked about him. But reading it was so enjoyable. You are a talented writer, Teri. I love how your voice comes through so strong in your written words.


  2. Linda Budzik
    Jul 29, 2017 @ 14:04:29

    And THANK YOU for saving Sheldon!


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