The Squirrel

As she opened the wooden door, there frozen with surprise, was the old gray squirrel. Holding one of my chocolate chip cookies, crumbs flecking his beard, he looked my neighbor right in her eye. She tells this story chuckling that the glance he gave her was one of guilt!

squirrelEarlier, that afternoon, I had baked cookies knowing her family would appreciate them. They were sitting vigilantly twenty-four hours a day waiting for her husband, their children’s father, and our friend to die. Hospice in all its wisdom was helping them keep him safely home and headed toward his last earthly journey.

I write this with a lump in my throat because of my own memories dealing with Hospice. My son, his wife, and I decided that we could keep my husband home fulfilling one of his last wishes. To us this passage would be the best in familiar surroundings, in our comfortable bed and away from the sterile hospitals. We considered this choice a privilege.

I always texted her before going over to their home. Sometimes the few feet separating our houses seemed like miles as I wore a path day after day trying to bring things of comfort. The day of the chocolate chip cookies was made fun because of the squirrel’s antics.

Today, I brought brownies frosted thickly with chocolate cream and was sure to put them on the high railing. But, the squirrel might be vigilant now since he knows food arrives on a regular basis. To say he has a sweet tooth would be appropriate!

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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