"If you are too busy in life to take the detours that call to you, you might just miss out on the living."
If you have been following along, you know that loss has been on my heart lately. I feel like I have sort of made it to the other side of transition, like you would in birth. For a long time, it was very difficult to talk about loss without getting overwhelmed by the weight of the anger and grief and sorrow- all masks that love wears when you loose someone or something.
Though I still haven't gotten around to typing out my birth story for the child I lost, I feel closer to being able to do so. I have shared so many different parts of her story here and there, but I am excited to share the overwhelming beauty of it as a whole.
Today, I have a different story to share. Something happened this week, that impacted me intently. It felt so random, but so intentional too, the way it happened. A lot like my own loss birth.
I woke up early, put on my birth shirt and headed out to meet with a client. I had about an hour drive, the day was warm and sunny with absolutely beautiful blue skies. I was about 20 minutes into the drive, and had left much earlier then I needed to so I would have time to stop at Starbucks on the way, grab a sandwich, and pick up my client a drink.
On the side of the road, just over the white line, I saw a turtle. My heart leapt as I drove by. I almost went on, but I knew I would regret it all day, so I found a safe place and turned around. I headed back to the spot slowly and carefully and parked on the side of the road, opposite of the turtle. I figured I would move him, so he wouldn't get hit by any other passing cars. The area was remote, but it did have a higher speed limit and road kill was a regular landmark on this stretch of pavement. I wasn't prepared for what I found.
The turtle had already been hit. He was alive, and had dragged himself to this side of the road, but had become too tired to go any further. My heart jumped into my throat as I picked him up carefully. I moved him far away from the road, and set him in some grass near a watery area. I didn't know what to do and I needed a second to think.
I went back into my car and grabbed my phone. I was panicking and lost, but I knew I couldn't leave him there. I scoured google for wildlife centers, knowing that I had heard something before about places that could help turtles heal. Sea turtles, but there had to be one for regular ones too right?
There was. I found a phone number. On the listing it said mammals, birds, deer. It didn't say turtles so I wasn't sure if there was anything they could do.
I hesitated for half a second. I am autistic, and one of the challenges of my disability is a chronic fear of phone calls- especially to strangers or to make apts. But I knew it had to be done. I hit call, and spoke to a kind lady who helped me locate the closest center to me. It was the one she was at, in Hillsborough NC. It was less then 20 minutes from me. She told me to bring him in, and apologized that there was nothing closer on my drive, but honestly I didn't care at all. Something made me stop. Something made me call. I felt like I had to help this guy. I looked online some tips for picking up hurt turtles, but didn't find much. I resolved to learn more in the future, and do what I could this time by instinct. I took my water bottle and dampened a soft tank top I had in the car just a little bit. It was so soft and light blue, I figured it would be a gentle way to hold him and the moisture might bring him comfort as turtles are often near bogs and lakes. My instinct had been to put him in the shade but I remembered that turtles were cold blooded, and I felt lost on what to do.
I carefully picked him up. Most of his shell and body were fine, but the front had several cracks and fissures. His head had been injured, and one of his front legs. I had no idea what to look for or what was considered too much damage. He was alive, moving, and reacting to my careful touch. That was a good sign.
I tried to move carefully but quickly, I wrapped the back legs and shell up in the shirt and carried him to the car. I rested him on the tank top on the front seat and I he turned his head to look at me.
I turned on some healing vibrational nature music, and turned off the air conditioning so it wouldn't be too cold. I drove. I tried to avoid bumps and keep the ride as smooth as possible, but also tried to drive as quickly as was safe. Something started to rise in me, this feeling like I wouldn't make it there in time. I started talking softly to the turtle, telling him he was safe, that he was gonna feel better soon, that I got him, it's okay. That I was so sorry this happened to him. I started praying desperately. For healing, time, and then, as I drove on, the prayer changed instinctually. It shifted from asking for healing, to asking for peace. Praying that what I was doing was not stressing him, but bringing him some sort of comfort. Praying that he would find peace and that he wouldn't remain suffering. Praying, softly softly praying.
I gave him silence too. Sent all my love and energy to his little shelled presence. I could feel it- his spirit. I could feel the pain he was in, I could feel the bright spot that he held. I could feel his energy and his life pulsing through the car. Then, all of a sudden, I couldn't. Everything stopped.
I didn't want to look at him now, I kept speeding along, trying to get to the center. Something in me broke and tears started falling. A voice inside me whispered that I didn't need to speed anymore. That I could slow down. That it was over. That he was gone. But the stubborn spirit in my body didn't want to listen. So I pushed the gas down more, and got him to the center. I was so soft and careful when I parked and picked him up.
I handed him to a lady with blue hair, and told her that I wasn't sure if he had made it. I told myself that I knew nothing about turtles. That he could be sleeping, passed out. That his heart could still be beating. But I knew.
I filled out paperwork that she had handed me.
When she came out, and confirmed gently that he had passed on, I was not shocked. We softly talked about his life and another case she had, where the turtle was in similar condition but was now being treated and on his way to healing. She thanked me for caring and for bringing him in. I stammered an awkward goodbye knowing I was going to that non verbal place and wouldn't be able to hold the conversation.
I drove away, and just cried. Cried and cried and cried. I have no idea if I helped or made it worse for him. Part of me fears that he would have been better left in the grass to pass there. Another part of me, feels strongly like I was meant to be there. There was something big about his spirit. I felt like I was meant to be a sort of guide for him, the way I am when babies are born for their parents. I felt like I was meant to play that music, and wrap him in that shirt, and cradle his little shelled body. Mostly, I felt like I was meant to be there so he didn't die alone. Thats all that any of us can hope for in that moment isn't it?
It wasn't a human and a turtle in that car. It was two bright spirits, meeting in one space that we made sacred. It was intense, but ethereal to be trusted by fate or God or whatever made me stop- to be the one to help his soul cross over. I felt and still feel like there was grand purpose in this moment.
I let the experience fuel my day. I met with my birth client and poured love into her space. I drove home and gave space to the spirit I had met on that road. When I got home, I pulled out a new pot and new soil, and a new plant my birth client had gifted me, and I planted it in honor of the turtle. I placed it carefully on my dresser, and intuitively placed some crystals around it that I felt were right. I promised to remember him and hold space for him.
The feeling stayed heavy with me the rest of the day. I told my husband the story and he gave me space to feel and think and love in the way only a bereaved mother knows how to.
I kept thinking, where there is death, there is life. I felt as his journey ended, a new one was beginning. I don't know how or what, but I believe it. His passing, that moment, was a gift to me. I felt it unlock something inside of me, remove some block. I still feel the energy flowing through that spot days later. Something has shifted.
It makes me wonder if this is the end of my infertility journey. It makes me wonder if I will be a mother again to a new soul. It makes me wonder if I will have a birth this week and welcome a new soul and feel this intensity again in a different way, on a different side of that same coin.
I wrote a poem in my grief of this moment, and figured it would fit well here too.
You can hear it in a video on my poetry instagram page or read it below:
I tasted my first bites of morning
at an impromptu coffee date with death
I felt it
When he took his last breath
When his spirit left my car
And the seat next to me lost
the orange juice drops of life that were hanging on
I didn’t really eat much after that.
Starbucks was just a privileged distraction.
How do I grieve a soul
They say doesn’t count?
How do I share about
The asphalt creatures that didn’t invite
These massive tire marks
Fingers and backs and shells
-Only corpses remain
Confetti to our campaigns, parties of power and greed and lust.
Tell me what remains of us
When we’ve lost the virtue of caring ?
Slaughtering an animal with the weapon that brings us to work is no bigger then loosing our keys?
I don’t think we were meant to invent these things…
But that concept won’t give me wings.
Or change the worlds designs.
I’m tired of coloring outside the lines
When they just speed right though them
My breakfast was lost
But so was a life
Witnessed by naught
But my tears and my strife
In a senseless effort to aide
What my brothers and sisters have slaughtered.
Deaf hearts won’t cave
…But at least this grave will be watered.
It is important to me to talk about and normalize things like loss, caring deeply, and living authentically to who you are. Perhaps this push, this shift inside of me is why I feel I had to share this story here in this space, though its not about my normal work. Like most things in my life, I trust it was for a purpose that I felt this call and typed these words. I will in turn, trust that the right people will read them. We truly never know our impact. How each breath is a cause and in relation to a million other happenings.
Spiritually, turtles represent going at your own pace, long life, fertility, patience and protection. All things I try to embody in my life and business. My Native American relatives adopt the spirit of the turtle to bridge the gap between humans and nature, and to feel grounded.
In many cultures, the turtle is closely connected to the spirit of the earth as a whole. Here's to that intentional energy, to destiny, love, grief, and
to that beautiful soul I had the honor of knowing so briefly on this day.