ALERT: Don’t watch this video if you don’t want to see the body of a dead possum. This is about an improvised funeral of Millie.
I was driving back from my son’s school and there was a dead animal. Just another one among so many. I searched and I learned that there are “over one million animals dying on roads every year in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.” Their death unbalance entire eco-systems, which include our human ways of living. We never pay attention to them, we never mourn them, and never ever even think of giving them a good funeral, a way of honoring their bodies and their lives.
So I passed by Millie, the name I gave her, and went home to get cloves, paper bag and then went back to look for her body on a busy road. It was in a very dangerous place so I had to do it very carefully and quickly. I first thought it was a squirrel but when I saw her, it was a possum. Oh I said: “I can’t do this…” I am a city boy, I know how to deal with concrete, subways, traffic lights… I remembered Jango, the squirrel I found on the streets and bury him too. It was so hard but now a possum? I think I only saw a possum through pictures on the internet. I have never seem a possum live in my entire life. Now, Milie’s dead body was there, and I had to do something. Oh it way so hard but I had to do it. Between shouts of “God help me,” “ahhh” and “my goodness” I wondered why I was feeling this way… Nonetheless, I did go and armed with all protection I could muster I picked up Millie’s dead body. Stiff, cold, her eyes shut. Her fur was so beautiful! I grabbed her by her tail and put her in the bag. I could see her little paws vividly…
As I went back to the car I had to think where to put her. I found a place with many trees and lots of dead trees and I went into the midst of it searching for a place she would be protected. I couldn’t carve a whole for her so I searched for a place where humans wouldn’t see her so easily. When I out her to the floor I couldn’t hold her body properly. I placed Millie’s body rather awkwardly into the earth but I wish I could have handled her body better. More carefully. There was love in my action for I was deeply moved by her life, body and death. But that love I had didn’t have enough to care for her better, to relate more deeply. Oh I feel I will need centuries to unleash all of the years of fears and distance and un-relationality with animals, other beings I grew up with. I experienced in my body what modernity told us about nature and animals: We are either in absolute awe or utter disgust when we relate to “natural” things, animals, species, land.
I sang a song to Millie in Guarani language, tried to cover her body with branches and then placed the paper bag over her body. I said a prayer, I thanked her for her life and all she gave to us. I said I am sorry we didn’t care for you. We are too brutal sometimes. I finished saying: Millie, may you rest in peace. May your family find more friendly ways to live among humans, may them find a better death or a natural death in the world you live. May we honor your world, may we honor who you are, the things you do, and the preciousness of your amazing being. I left confused, lost, sad. What is my task as human species to more than humans species?