Came inside last night, and there was a tiny figure on the carpet by the stairs.
It was a bat, a familiar figure in this area, and even in my house during the summer months especially.
We have bats in the attic, and though my Dad always claims he’s going to try to get rid of them, we never do. They’re so fun to watch on summer evening, as the dart around after mosquitoes.
But this one wasn’t doing any darting.
It was barely moving at all.
My first thought was that the dogs had found it, but when I looked closer, it didn’t seem to have any damage. It was just young, and didn’t look like it was well.
I put on a pair of gloves, and picked the bat up, then held him while I googled how to care for a bat pup.
Now, before people say I should have gone to a rescue, it was late evening on a Sunday. No place would have been open. All of the sites I looked at said to do specific things to keep the bat alive until you’re able to get it to a rescue.
Taking the advice of the sites I read, I used a small paintbrush to offer water and cat food gravy to the little thing.
He took the food and water willingly, then sucked on the brush when he was finished, like bottle-baby animals often do with with the bottle nipple when they are finished with their milk. It’s a common way to get comfort.
I held the bat, who I named Bernard, to give him some body heat while I was still awake, then put him in a box with a heating lamp when I went to sleep.
By the time we went to bed, Bernard had gone downhill. He was crawling with mites, and not showing much interest in the food or water I offered him. His whole demeanor had changed, and I was losing hope for him.
But I tucked him in, trying to keep him as comfortable as possible for what I guessed would be the last little bit of his life.
I’d like to say that I was wrong.
I’d love to say that all Bernard needed was a bit of sleep, and he rallied in the morning and was able to fly away.
But that would be a lie.
By morning, my little bat friend was dead.
It was more upsetting than one might expect.
He wasn’t even in my life for a day. In the scheme of things, he was merely a dash between moments.
But he meant something.
He was a life, and though it wasn’t a long life, it mattered.
And I’m glad that I was there for that brief time, if for nothing else, at least to give him as much comfort as I could, and to treat him as though he mattered.
Calvin and Hobbes sums it all up very well…
And yes, this strip makes me cry every single time I read it. It’s just so true to my life.