Trixie was the quintessential gerbil. She acted like a mouse in a Cinderella story book. “Don’t stick your fingers near the air holes of the box” the pet store manager cautioned our daughter after we purchased Trixie for her. “She will try to bite them.” But Trixie never tried to bite our daughter’s fingers when they slowly drifted near the air holes in the box on the car ride home. Trixie only peered out at the world.
And what a world it was — with her new exercise wheel to run on and her new varieties of food. She was fed not just gerbil food but parrot food, pop corn and bananas. She didn’t seem to mind at all being sent down the backyard playground slide by our daughter; or being carried around in her shirt pocket with head peering out, as though she was a handkerchief; or being dressed up in hand-crocheted bonnets and clothes, or having flowers turned upside down upon her head to make hats for her.
Trixie would go for bicycle rides around the neighborhood sitting peacefully on our daughter’s shoulders, with her back always to the wind. She would sometimes sit in our daughter’s hand like she was a cat and allow herself to be petted until she fell asleep. Trixie took life in stride.
Like a cat, she seemed to have nine lives. She almost drowned in a bucket of cold water once. That sent her into shock. Out came the hair drier and the children collectively blew dried her back to health. One day she was over-fed her vitamins. She leapt out of her cage at 3:00 that morning, just as we were sending one of our children off on a school band trip. She stood upright on her two hind feet and spent the next 12 hours madly darting about the house, as a newly transformed “Super-Trixie,” ultimately to be captured under the kitchen sink.
Our latest Trixie escapade came on a Sunday night. Our daughter bounded into the house “Mom, come quick, it’s Trixie.” I was lead out the front door with a heavy sinking feeling. To the left of our house there is a white plastic pipe, which leads five feet down to a drainage pipe from the house. The pipe’s cap had recently been knocked off as my husband was mowing the lawn. ”Trixie fell down there,” was the explanation as her finger pointed ominously five feet downward through the pipe.
After shining a flashlight down the plastic pipe we were able to see Trixie at the bottom. Tom was not home and not knowing what else to do, we constructed a basket out of a cut water bottle tied with string. We lowered that into the pipe. For hours, attempts were made to coax Trixie onto the basket with carrot cake. She ate the carrot cake with gusto, but failed to stay in the basket so we could pull her up.
It was now getting dark and the mosquitoes were biting. The neighborhood children had gathered round as their parents sat on their front porches casting sympathetic glances in our direction. Thankfully, Tom arrived and took charge. He decided the only way to extricate Trixie was to dig around the pipe and then cut through it.
Taking a pet rescue break, I went to finish the dinner dishes. Having packed the dishwasher full, I flicked the switch to lock and pressed “wash.” No sooner had I done that then Tom came bolting in shouting “Who is running the water?” I quickly shut the dishwasher off. The water leaving the house from the dishwasher had almost washed Trixie away, as she clung for dear life to the water bottle basket.
Tom kept digging around the pipe as we alternately took turns holding a flashlight so he could see what he was doing. Darkness had descended by the time he was near the depth where Trixie had fallen. He realized then that there was no way to cut through the pipe to save her.
“We have to break the pipe,” he reasoned calmly as he continued digging. And once he broke the pipe someone would need to grab Trixie quickly.
Neither my husband nor I could fit down that hole to grab Trixie. One of the children would have to grab her. After determining it would be safe to do that, my husband broke the pipe, tossed it out of the hole and yelled “now.” We turned our daughter upside down, held her feet securely and lowered her with a flashlight into the hole. “I see her. I see her. I got her!” We hoisted our daughter and Trixie up.
Trixie was matted and a little shook but looked none worse for the wear. My husband commented later on how we had to try to save her. “Once you see life,” he said “you have to try to try to save it.”
If that is true for a gerbil, how much more is it true for a human? How much more is this true of a human being made with dignity by God and for God and in the very image and likeness of God Himself?
How can we expect to bring peace to the world when in our own country we wage war against the most innocent and helpless of all human beings? Before peace comes to the world, it must first come to the unborn. Mother Theresa said that “any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what it wants.”
If we want to teach people to love one another, we must start by teaching them to love the unborn. We must start by teaching the truth that all life is sacred from conception to natural death — that all life comes from God and thus only God can decide when it is time for a human being’s mortal life ought to end. We must start by teaching that once we see human life we “have to try to save it.”