Edie Barbaro

My husband and I recently rented a larger house with a father-in-law suite so my father could spend the end of his life at home with family.  We really expected more time with him, but he had other plans.

One night a couple of weeks ago, I made my way to our new place, winding around the tree-lined road, flanked by a few houses and two small ponds, before starting the short climb up the hill to the home that now had too many rooms.  Spring was on its way and a light rain was coming down that brought out the fresh smell of the earth.  The glow of the headlights made the road shine and the trees glisten.  Shortly after passing the ponds my lights fixed on a small goose sitting in the road.  His head was erect and he was looking around.  I expected him to get up when my car approached, but he didn’t.  I stopped the car, put on the flashers and got out to shoo him back to the grass, hoping he would make his way down the hill a bit, closer to the water.  He didn’t move; he just turned his head toward me and silently, repeatedly opened and closed his mouth.  As I got closer, I saw a small piece of down fixed to his bill by a splash of blood.  He couldn’t move.  I took my sweater off and approached him slowly, and gently wrapped him so I could lift him off the road.  There was no struggle.  When I picked him up, I felt the weight of his small body and his warmth as he allowed me to make decisions for him.  Blood, small feathers, and tufts of down paved the blacktop where he had been.  I carefully and deliberately moved my silent charge to the grass where he would be safe from the pummeling of the distracted or tired driver.  He sat quietly where I set him, with a certain dignity and self-possession.

Returning to the car, I found myself standing in the road, where this goose had been, in front of the headlights in the rain, wearing feathers and blood, with tears streaming down my face, saying over and over “I don’t know what to do for you; I don’t know what to do for you.”

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