Give me ten minutes of ‘I don’t remember.’
Sigh. The prompt, from “Old Friend from Far Away,” is one I’ve skipped for months now. I’ve bypassed it on purpose. Not remembering, ironically, is more difficult than remembering.
Trying to forget, forcing a difficult memory away takes energy. A prompt like that brings things back into focus and…maybe a bit of obscurity is desired instead. My more logical self knows how much harm that can do, and so I let the memory ease back. Just a little.
I don’t want to remember chasing prairie dogs when we were kids. I don’t want to remember the sentry dog standing tall, whistling a high-pitched warning of “danger, danger”. Balancing on his hind legs the prairie dog stretched full height, leaning slightly forward at the neck.
He’d shriek that trouble was coming, and coming soon. It was his job to warn, his job to make everyone aware. He was the canary in the prairie dog mine. All motion from the community ceased while the danger was assessed, until the moment when one prairie dog skittered below ground. The rest quickly followed.
I don’t want to remember the day I heard a different yip, a warning cry that was louder and different, a higher pitch, a singular cry. I don’t want to remember the red-tail hawk sweeping down to steal a prairie dog pup away in its talons. I don’t want to remember how hard I cried.
These days, though. These days I think of it often because try as I might, that image is there. It came to me unbidden weeks ago when I was on the phone with a loved one. I heard a warning cry, almost identical to the prairie dog’s yip. Then I heard it again, and again a few moments later.
I asked what the sound was. “Oh, that’s just me breathing,” he said.
He relies on an oxygen compressor to help him get enough air, and his lungs aren’t understanding. He was so nonchalant about it that I had trouble breathing.
I don’t want to remember what happened after the hawk flew away. How I chased him, and couldn’t catch him, of course. How I couldn’t rewind time.
And I don’t want to think about what happens next.
Instead, I focus on the warning cry itself. Heed the call to pay attention. Be aware. Look around. Stay alive.
It’s hard, isn’t it, to think what that means? Maybe it means scampering underground for a bit until the world seems kinder. There is a time and a place for that.
Do come out eventually though. Heeding a warning isn’t the same as living scared.