Lynn Rosenthal writes about saving a baby opossum from the side of the road.
As I started my day one Sunday morning, my first instinct was to look away when I drove toward an opossum and several babies that lay dead on my street corner. Something made me slow down and take another look. I was shocked — the mother was clearly dead, but her stomach was moving up and down.
I called my brother who trains and rescues wild animals, and he reminded me that opossums are marsupials and they carry their babies in pouches like kangaroos. He assured me it wouldn’t bite, so I dashed home, put on a pair of plastic gloves and went back to the bloody scene.
I tentatively reached inside the mother’s pouch — and this little pink nose poked out, followed by a pair of beady, inquisitive eyes! The baby made a little sneezing sound and I was afraid that meant there was some sort of problem. Turns out, that’s the noise they make. She was just saying hi.
My husband drove to my brother’s house while I cradled the scared little girl in my hand, keeping her warm and talking to her, hoping to soothe her after what must’ve been an incredibly traumatic experience. My brother said she looked to be about four weeks old and appeared in good health.
Leaving her in good hands, I said goodbye to the little fur ball I named Millie — because it’s a one in a million chance that she survived what was obviously a car accident that killed her mother and siblings.
I continue checking on Millie almost daily, and my brother tells me she’s doing just fine. I’m dying to go visit her, but he says that’s not what’s best for her. She doesn’t need humans cuddling her; she needs to get reacclimated to the wild so she can go out and live the life that’s meant for her and, hopefully, have a bunch of little joeys someday.
In the larger scheme of things, what is one baby opossum worth? Maybe not much to most people, but I think it’s everything. There are a lot of things in this world that aren’t within our power to change — but sometimes all you have to do is take a little time and care a little bit, and you can make a difference, however slight. There is at least one of God’s creatures that will live to see another day because someone cared.
Please don’t think I’m trying to make myself out to be a hero because I’m not. I just wanted to share how absolutely wonderful it feels when you do a mitzvah and take the time to help someone or something that really needs it and see the fruits of your efforts. There is no better reward in the world.
Lynn Rosenthal is a Detroit-area freelance writer who has spent two decades in the legal field and co-authored a book The Sadist, the Hitman and the Murder of Jane Bashara with her husband, George Hunter, a police/crime reporter for the Detroit News.