Life is fragile and to serve as a reminder someone knocked down my ten-month old kitten this morning. I live on a quiet lane in the countryside and found Caspar in the hedge with a dislocated jaw and fractured skull. The impact had completely dislodged his right eye so I’d say whoever hit him was travelling pretty fast. His injuries suggest he died very quickly which is the only consolation I can take from the incident.
When my neighbour’s husband developed dementia three years ago she reluctantly moved him into a care home because she was frightened he’d get knocked down. He’d lost his ability to react to passing vehicles, even slow ones, and would let himself out of the house to wander in the lanes at any time of day or night. She said he’d always been an outdoors man and it seemed walking still held some kind of connection for him, it calmed his spirit and made him smile. The decision to confine him in a care home twenty miles away caused my neighbour significant distress. They’d been married for over 40 years and never before had a day apart but the fear of finding him dead or seriously injured in a hedgerow was more than she could bear.
Whenever I see my neighbour I ask how her husband is. She tells me he is physically well but quickly fading away from her; she can barely communicate with him now. Her eyes are sad and they betray her thoughts. Memories of happier times mixed with guilt because he’s no longer at home; the continual grief that accompanies a woman forced to watch helplessly while the man she’d called her soul-mate slips further and further from reach. My neighbour was right to be concerned for her husband’s safety; a handful of people drive as if they’re in the Monza Grand Prix and they’d never stop in time to avoid a confused gentleman who is too unsteady to quickly step away from the single-track road. I feel desperately sad for her and for her husband even though he’ll never know it.
Caspar followed me everywhere and was especially keen on sitting in the greenhouse while I tended the plants. You can see him in the photos below. In the evenings Caspar and his brother Newton curled up together in the cat basket even though they were growing too big to share; one cat had to sleep on top the other. Tonight Newton is wandering around unable to settle and staring at the back door as if his brother should be here already. The kittens were inseparable but a twist of fate means Newton has to adjust to being alone just like my neighbour is trying to adjust. She’d give anything to have her husband back at home but can’t provide round the clock care or keep him safe from dangers he’s no longer able to recognise.
Life is so very fragile, far too fragile to take for granted.