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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spreading Love: A Vigil for Megan and a Nameless Cat




Thursday evening I attended the candlelight vigil held at Millbrook Park in New Boston as a promise for the return of 25 year-old Megan Lancaster, who has been missing since the first week in April. No news has surfaced about Megan's whereabouts. Of course, by now, I knew almost all of the those in the small crowd of family and friends who gathered to keep faith and hope alive. I have attended many activities planned by the family. They have worked so hard to do everything possible to find Megan.

Amid somber visages, voices of concern and comfort bound us all together in the pledge to keep searching for Megan. We lit candles to illumine the path home, and we did our best to keep them from being extinguished by the warm, swirling summer breeze. People read uplifting poems and offered beautiful prayers during the thoughtful vigil.

It was uplifting to see people doing their very best to come to terms with the loneliness and heartache that had broken into their lives. I saw smiles emerge from many faces. Some spoke openly of their reliance upon others and upon the Almighty, gifts of acceptance and kindness so appreciated in dark hours. The children in attendance played and ran is the last rays of sunlight -- fitting reminders than life goes on despite closure.

After the vigil, I walked a short distance through the park toward my car. I thought about life and people and loss. It occurred to me we all need love. Not just the love of a spouse or the love of a family, but we also desperately need love from casual acquaintances, and we even need love from complete strangers. Not only do we need this mutual love, but also we need to give and receive the love with large measures of respect.

What value does life hold without faith in love? No matter our net worth or our class, we are hollow without friends and the belief that other people will share reciprocal kindness in a loving world. Despite our anger and disgust with a society that seems to honor nothing but survival of the fittest, we must increase our interaction with newcomers and outsiders to benefit ourselves and our own kin.

This thing that everyone really already knows and that I have believed forever clobbered me between the eyes as I was walking on the path to my automobile, yet, this time, it struck me in crystalline, forthright, explicit terms:

"We all have to make ourselves show 
much more love to everyone else."

I reached my car, turned the ignition and began to drive back home. Still pondering what you, by now, consider to be trite and meaningless dribble from an old, John-Lennon-schooled fart, I turned on my signal and slowed to a stop at Dorman Drive, preparing to make the left-turn home.

I saw a car stopped on Dorman at the intersection, and found myself, at first, dumbfounded by a middle-aged lady quickly emerging from the vehicle. She was very distraught, her distorted face on the verge of tears, frantically speaking into a cell phone. As she continued her animated conversation, she walked forward toward an object lying in the street directly in front of her car.

My eyes were drawn to a sight that instantly shook me into complete reality. There, lying silent and motionless except for its small chest surging rhythmically up and down in its final heartbeats was a beautiful, caramel-colored cat. Obviously someone's well-kept, tawny pet, the animal was intact and seemingly unmarked, yet a steady, ever-growing stream of the reddest red ran from somewhere beneath it onto the hard pavement.

I knew the cat had been hit by a car and was dying. I wondered whether the lady I saw had accidentally hit the pet herself or whether she had stopped to attempt to give aid to the animal. I drove by her and the cat slowly without saying a word. I really didn't know what to do to offer any remedy. The animal didn't appear to be suffering, but it was evident it was unconscious and bleeding to death. I felt horror but I slowly drove on home.

The vivid, tragic image of the poor cat is now firmly planted in my memory, a haunting reminder of the fragility of all beautiful living things. To me, the fact that I had not witnessed the accident is a blessing. Yet, I must have arrived on the scene just seconds after the cat had been hit.

In the aftermath, framed by black asphalt in distinct contrast lay an eloquent, now helpless, creation of God. I realized I couldn't bear to stop and see it expire. I was frightened -- not by the carnage but by the absolute, inevitable expiration of this living thing. I felt guilty that I could not bear to witness its end. Hell, I felt as if I should have known its name. I had never set eyes on this animal, yet I knew I wanted it to spring to life.

Maybe, hope against all hope, the cat lived, saved by the lady and a skilled vet, but I knew the truth was that someone had to pick up its lifeless, bloody carcass from the street, and someone would be sobbing uncontrollably when they discovered their beautiful, loving pet was dead. The horrors of the tragedy would continue to disperse like the blood I had seen flowing from the animal's still-beating heart.




Was my witness to this sight serendipity? Did God intend that I see this awful thing as I left the vigil? Of course, you are now convinced that this old man is totally wacky. And, I may be crazy, at least to a great degree.

Nevertheless, the sight of the dying feline made me focus even more on the nature of humans. We, as beings that love, care for other living creatures -- people, animals, pets. I believe only the most heartless individuals care nothing about the living. To see life extinguished by accident is nearly unbearable. To extinguish life on purpose without reason is inhuman. Our work is to stop the inhumanity.

"We all have to make ourselves show 
much more love to everyone else."

The misery of loss can only be relieved by love. Loss and death stain all our minds with indelible, dark images that can only be lightened by the love, concern, and dignity others freely offer to us. Reality loads us all with many heavy burdens to carry. Perhaps our most important mission as a human being is to spread our love, much like a faithful and trusting pet, to all those around us. And, I, reminded by the cat that now occupies a space in my brain, believe we should do it immediately before our own untimely demise.

More candles must light the way for Megan. Call me crazy, but a cat with a glowing halo just "told me so." And a young man named Garrett Maloney was petting the animal when it spoke. All you have to do is believe this is true and spread your love.





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