Friday, June 30, 2006

Imminent Death

There's nothing quite so powerful as being reminded that we're all going to die.

I was walking downtown on my lunch break yesterday (my first day of teaching - more on that eventually), when a piece of paper on the sidewalk caught my eye. It was a Xeroxed essay, entitled "Write Till You Drop." I picked it up.

"Write as if you were dying," says the author, Annie Dillard, "At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case."

Yup. It sure is. We're all going to die.

She goes on: "What would you begin writing if you knew you were going to die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?"

I've been sitting with these questions ever since. And I will continue to do so, hopefully, with some result by the next entry. All I know right now is, the writing I've been doing for this blog has been getting a little stale.

I've got another two months before I move in with J~, and I don't want to spend the meantime pining over and over for the day, or fearing it, or speculating about whether or not we'll ever truly get there. We'll get there, and it's going to be fine.

Nor do I want to continue to regurgitate the same worn out fears about recurring miscarriage and the perils of parenthood. Though I did give myself a good sobering scare last night reading a slew of bloggers reporting imminent fourth and fifth miscarriages. Why me? They cry, and I know, Why not me, too? But worrying doesn't help.

I have to shower now. I'm teaching today too.

This weekend, I'll spend some time with J~ and B~, and with my family (my brother, D~, is in town from California).

Maybe by Monday I'll have something new to say.

Happy weekend everybody.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


At J~'s house, I have a neighbor, H~, who approached me recently, having seen me walking up and down her street, to ask if I wanted to walk together sometime. I gladly agreed. We've since done so several times, for over an hour at a stretch. We now know each other's entire life stories. Or at least it feels that way.

H~ and I have one thing in common: we both got pregnant as teenagers. And we both called our babies-to-be by the same name. Only, I had an abortion, and she didn't. She now has a seven-year-old daughter (mine would have been eighteen) and a three-year-old son. She's happily married to the guy who she once described as a one night stand.

I wonder what's motivating me to write about this. It's not that I feel I'm getting a glimpse into the life I might've had; H~'s life is very different than mine ever could've been. But the questions she asks me (like, did I ever think of my miscarriages as punishment for my abortion) are probably the same questions I would've asked (or been afraid to ask) had I been in her shoes.

What H~ offers me is an opportunity to reflect, to see how far I've come. It wasn't that long ago that I did feel like I was living the consequence of a big mistake. I told H~ as much, and also that now, I see things differently. "I had a very tough choice to make back then. I made the best decision I could at the time. Both roads would have been hard, but I don't see that as punishment anymore. I'm happy with my life now. I'm glad to have the memories and experiences I've had. There are definitely things I regret, and things that make me sad. But we all have that."

It's great to have a chance to say this kind of thing out loud to someone, especially someone nodding, someone getting it, in spite of a life guided by a very different set of beliefs.

Plus, it was also nice to have someone to confess to, when the feeling welled up in me on our walk yesterday morning: I'm getting more and more excited about moving in with J~ fulltime. Come fall, barring any mishaps or missteps, that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Meltdown Weekend

First of all, there was A~, stopping by my apartment on Friday, chipper and smiling, to collect one more box, write one more check, and to go over the few remaining details of our divorce. "I can't do this," I told him, breaking into tears just a few minutes after his arrival. "I can't have a chatty, superficial friendship with you. It's painful for me that the same person who was my husband a few months ago is now the one saying, a week after the fact, 'So how did the surgery go?'"

He sat awkwardly while I cried.

"You didn't plan this, did you?" he asked, meaning, had I planned to cry.

This is not a new question with us. Early in our relationship, I would break down emotionally during intimate moments so frequently that he thought I only appeared to be interested in sex because I wanted his attention for an emotional release. I didn't know why it was happening, didn't want it to be happening. But it happened, and if I tried to ignore the feelings, I'd panic. He refused to be sexual with me unless I could promise not to have to interrupt the act. "Maybe we should work on our friendship," I said then. We abstained for nine months.

I sighed, and assured him that I had not planned these tears either. "I can't tell if you're just sitting through this to get your stuff, or if you actually care and want to be there for me until I get to the point where I could actually be friends with you."

"Well," he answered, "Do you think that if I did sit through it, you would actually get to that point?"

I laughed, which came out more like a splutter. And shook my head, at a loss for words.

There was a time when I would have explained to him that I used the expression "sit through it" sarcastically, derisively. I would've defined derisively. That he just didn't get it would've mattered less than the fact that he was clearly trying, doing his best.

But I was the one who didn't get it, because I thought that doing his best was the same thing as caring. Since his best these days involves causing me great pain and only a conditional willingness to "sit through" my expression of it, I realize that he simply doesn't know how to care, never really did. The tears were still coming.

"Would it help if I sat closer to you?" he asked.

"No!" I laughed. I had taught him this - getting closer used to help. "Thank you," I added, because I recognized that he was, as always, doing his best.

That evening, while J~ drove home from work, reporting rain so torrential, people were pulling over to wait it out, I was still leaking tears.

Saturday found me lying on my living room floor, on the phone with J~ again, crying some more. It was raining, and my period had begun. I don't care how poor the timing would have been for me to be pregnant this month, or how unlikely, or how encouraged I am to be having a very normal, 28-day cycle, it still makes me sad whenever this time of the month rolls around.

I drove to J~'s through a series of torrential downpours, in the grips of monster menstrual cramps. I arrived to find B~, having graduated sixth grade and finished elementary school just the day before, acting blue and antisocial. J~, feeling the weight of his son's struggle, and also, keenly, the fact of their family unit's dissolution, reported a heavy heart of his own. It wasn't until we were in the basement on Sunday, sitting on a couch destined for the Salvation Army, that his tears finally came.

In the afternoon, we took B~ to a friend's house for an overnight visit, and ourselves to a hardware store to buy spackle and other painting supplies. Back at the house, we abandoned speculative plans for housework or the gym in favor of breaking in our new, very fluffy and spacious couch with a make-out session and a nap. We woke to find the rain had not let up, but the sadness had.

It's day three of my period. My cramps have subsided. J~ is at work, B~ is still with his friend. The rain, which until moments ago was still coming down, appears to be over, at least for now. In fact, the sun is breaking through as I write.

Meltdown Weekend is officially over.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Home Alone

After a long hiatus at J~'s, I've returned to the scene of the crime (my apartment, with all it's wilting plants and moldy dishes in the sink) to catch up with course planning, to clean and breathe and sleep that glorious middle-of-the-bed sleep one can only achieve at home, alone.

Besides all that, I'm bracing myself for a final meeting with A~ (today at 1 pm). He'll be picking up his socket wrenches, random socks and other sundries, copying a few cassettes, and making sure there's nothing else we forgot was his. He'll also write me a check to cover my dental surgery, since the only reason I didn't have it done while we were together was pregnancy. (Knock wood again for those miscarriages.)

Speaking of pregnant, no I'm not, though my period is due any minute. I've told J~ that we'll be using condoms this month, as my move-in date is on the ropes. I love him as much as ever, but I'm starting to stand a little stronger on my own two feet, and I'm not ready yet to give up my independence, my apartment, my occasional glorious middle-of-the-bed sleep. And frankly, as long as it feels like such a relief to come "home" to my apartment, I'm not giving it up. I'll continue to cart things to his place, to make improvements and carve out space for myself there. The move-in together plan is by no means derailed. We're on track. It's a good track. But why rush it?

My ambiguous biological clock is whispering urgently into my ear, "Me! I'm the reason!"

I hear you, clock. I have by no means forgotten you. But you're not everything.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Passing Storm

Yesterday morning, after weeks of angst over which of my many not-very-inspiring priorities should be at the top of the list, I found myself sweeping aside my boring and tedious plans for the day. After filing some papers that had been lingering on my desk at J~'s house, answering some long unanswered emails, I ate a leisurely breakfast. And then, instead of gathering myself out the door and onto the long road home to run a million little very important errands, I found myself picking just a little bit more wallpaper off the downstairs bathroom, lifting just a tiny corner from the hallway, a tad here and there in the kitchen, and then stripping the entire kitchen, right down to the sheetrock. By the time I finished and had the room put together again, it was six-thirty in the evening. I felt great, though a little stiff around the knees.

J~ arrived home from work and we looked at paint chips. "I'm having a moment," he said, and his eyes got misty contemplating all I had done, how incredible his house is going to look, and just how invested I have become in it, and, most of all, in him.

He ate some bread and almond butter before heading out again, to catch up with his son at baseball practice. I relaxed on the couch for a few minutes, ate an orange and a piece of bread with hummus, and set off driving to the community center. My plans for a swim were foiled by a little thunder storm: community center policy is to close the pool. So I took a hot shower instead, and a long walk around and around the nearby high school track, while the storm passed overhead.

It felt great to be out in the evening air, watching the last orange and gold flame of daylight on the horizon, sky full of dusky storm clouds in every shade of moldering purple, flickering with lightning. I thought about a children's story I want to write that involves this kind of sky. I thought about how nice it felt to stretch my legs. I thought about J~, who had only just allowed me to go at this home improvement project in my haphazard, energetic way, rather than holding me to his careful, one-room-at-a-time approach, beginning with the smallest, and least interesting room, the tiny downstairs bath.

I don't want to move into his house before the place feels like home, and all my work: cleaning out his basement, gardening, combing craigslist for second-hand furniture, and now painting, are to move us in that direction. Supposedly we would get it in shape by the end of August, but I'd begun to doubt we could pull it off. I'm the one with time and energy for the project, but recently, I've hit a block. I simply wasn't enjoying it anymore, which took the wind out of my sails, and got me wondering if maybe I should be putting my energy elsewhere. "It's not happening fast enough," I had told J~, to no effect except to jack up the stress. And the pushiness felt wrong.

Still, I couldn't help but wonder if his reticence was larger than a need for order. Could it be that he wasn't ready to accept that the family life these walls had housed for so long was over and gone? Who was I to force that on him? But would he ever be ready if I didn't? Okay, okay, I thought, so maybe I don't move in until October. Possibly even November. Maybe, and I have to allow this, though it feels extreme, maybe I don't move in ever.

Once I faced that scariest of possibilities, owned it, realized it's better than moving in too soon, I was able to take the pressure off J~, and he, in turn, took the restrictions off me. "I just wish I had more time to be helping," he said, "But if you're into doing it, I think you should go for it!"

Apparently, that's all I needed to hear, judging by my weary body last night and the naked kitchen walls, just begging to be taped off and spackled today.

After several laps around the track last night, I flopped down on a big red high-jump mat. Something had changed. I felt happier than I have in weeks. What is it? I wondered.

And then I knew.

What's changed is this: I know it now. I'll be okay. Not because of J~, not because of anything he does or says, or whether or not we have children. I'll be okay because I'm happy right now. I'm happy now because I am following my own bliss. And I'm going to continue to be happy because I know how to do just that. There will always be fears and pressures and things I can't control. But when I stop looking too far ahead, clinging to a particular outcome, when I really attend to right now, happiness is not an elusive thing.

Life demands it, life encourages it. It's up to us to embrace it.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Anticipation can be exquisite torture. In sex, it's fun, it builds the energy. For kids looking forward to birthdays and holidays, it's much the same thing: an expectation of great pleasure around the bend, mixed with just enough doubt and uncertainty to keep it interesting.

I can't say the same for dental surgery. I've been dreading this experience ever since I was told, eight months ago, that it would likely be something I'd need. Torture? Yes. Exquisite? No way.

On the bright side, as it sometimes happens, anticipation is often more brutal than the actual experience.

My tenure in the dentist's chair wasn't exactly a relaxing spa treatment, but it was bearable. And interesting, as I was able to surreptitiously watch a great deal of the procedure in the reflective surface of the lamp over my head. Gory, but not so scary to have a guy poking around inside my mouth with needles and a knife when I could see exactly what he was doing with them.

Afterwards, thanks to Novocain, my mouth felt five times bigger than normal, and numb. The doc strongly encouraged me to fill my prescriptions for Motrin and Vicodin and begin taking them immediately. "You're going to be very uncomfortable," he warned. I took the Motrin he proffered before leaving the office, and dutifully filled the prescriptions (actually J~ did). But I couldn't bring myself to down narcotics without first experiencing some need for them.

It's three days post-surgery now, and still, I haven't experienced any real pain. I mean, this is boo boo territory, band-aid pain, laughable! Nothing worthy of a narcotic haze, nothing, even, compared to the occasionally fierce grip of menstrual cramps! I did take two more Motrins the first night, but even that seemed frivolous.

So, now that I have that much-anticipated event under my belt, it's time to move on to other things: teaching design this summer. Divorcing A~ in July. Painting J~'s kitchen. Moving in. Taking a brand new stab at baby-making, perhaps.

And to think, when I was first told I would need this surgery, I was already pregnant, happily married and on my way to becoming a parent, or so I thought.

Some things just can't be anticipated.

Friday, June 16, 2006


That's what today's about: dental surgery. (See May 14th's entry, Babies or Teeth) My appointment is at 2:30. In the meantime, J~ and I will go to the gym, then to the grocery store to buy soft foods: bananas, avocados, carrot juice, yogurt, tofu, spinach for steaming, oatmeal...

Wish me luck. I'll report soon as I'm up and about again.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Courage on the Hill

Early one morning in California, with our body-clocks on east coast time and the rest of the household still sleeping, my brother A~ and I decided to go for a jog in nearby Griffith Park. We ran uphill on progressively steeper and narrower dirt trails. Finally, sweaty and breathing hard, we found ourselves standing at a peak overlooking the park and the mist-enshrouded city. In spite of the gnats weaving around our faces, we took a moment of silent appreciation and meditation.

Dear Hollywood, I found myself thinking, I have something to offer, and I'd like to give it, to have it received. I was thinking of my writing, my art, my message. I want to delight people with my vision, challenge them with my experience, and inspire them to take risks, to live fully, and creatively. I'm so embarrassed writing this, but in interest of full disclosure, I'll admit it, in all it's corny glory: There I was. Yet another soul in Hollywood, longing for an audience.

When reaching out prayerfully from a meditative state, my monologue often becomes a dialogue. So it was no surprise that a voice bubbled up from inside, though the question it asked did throw me for a loop. Which do you want more, it said, an audience or a child?

There was no easy answer. As much as I want to be a mother, I have wanted to be an artist and writer far more fervently for a much longer time. As always, I write, I make art, but I hold it very close. I don't put it out into the world as much as I could. This blog is an exception, and a huge step for me. But it's not enough, and I knew it suddenly more than ever, as I stood on that Hollywood hill, that I could not feel fulfilled if I didn't put my work out there much much more. This requires time and discipline.

But I also very much want to be a mother, which, undeniably, requires tremendous energy and focus. Can't I do both?

The internal voice turned the question back on me. Can you?

I didn't know. I would need to think about it. As my brother and I walked down the path, we discussed our reflections. (He had spent his moment of silence praying for our brother, D~, due to graduate into a great deal of debt and uncertainty later that day, which of course, put me to shame for being so self-involved.) First, we had a long talk about D~, whom we concluded is on a positive path, humble and ambitious at the same time, both romantically and professionally.

When I told him about my thoughts, it occurred to me that my art and writing are like children to me, and that I need to set them free in the world. The time and discipline this will require is nothing compared to what it will take in terms of courage. I want to be an artist and writer. I want to have a child.

I want, and intend, God or Hollywood permitting, to do both. I know this solidly now. It's time for me to get to work.

(ps. The painting is mine. It's called Village, and it's gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper, circa 2004)

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Force

Sometimes, it seems, all you have to do is to name whatever it is you’re afraid of, and the fear dissolves.

Over lunch at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint shortly after my arrival in L.A., I told my brother, D~, my concern that I would feel too raw, too alone in the midst of the people I am closest to, on this occasion meant to revolve around him. Worse, I feared that if I weren’t able to conceal my feelings, everyone would get annoyed with me for ruining the mood, or, more sinister, stealing the spotlight. It felt good to admit this fear, to have it heard and honored, and to realize I was going to be just fine.

I was. In fact, I was more than fine. It was actually a great trip, a great time had by all, as far as I could tell.

There was one strange moment, though, just before the graduation ceremony. I was standing in my brother’s tiny apartment kitchen, brushing my teeth over the sink while others showered and dressed and primped in front of various mirrors. I haven’t seen A~ in a while, I found myself thinking, I wonder if he’s almost ready to go. It was a reflexive urge, this thought to check up on my husband. I felt like I’d seen a ghost.

I’m still a little disconcerted, but for the time being, the ghost was dispelled by a brisk uphill walk to the graduation site, where I sat between my brothers, A~ and J~, and discretely noted several celebrity sightings: Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen sat in the audience, three rows in front of me, among others, whose names escape me now. George Lucas and James Earl Jones both made speeches. (“I’m sure you’ve heard this before. You’re probably sick of hearing it. But I’m going to say it anyway,” James said to the graduates, in closing, “May the Force be with you.”

Indeed. May the Force be with us all.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Electric Umbilicle

My dear blogophiles, I am writing to you from the public library to convey the message: You are not forgotten! The power cord for my laptop, on the other hand, is another story. I wrote a blog entry on the return flight, and discovered when I got home, after my battery gave out, that I left that blessed umbilicle behind in L.A. When it arrives via Priority Mail on Monday (I hope) I'll put a spit-shine on my trip report and promptly upload.

In the meantime, two pieces of news:

1. I spoke to the periodontist's office today. As it turns out, there will be only one dental surgery rather than two. That means there is no medical reason to hold off on pregnancy attemps after June 16th. Emotional and physical reasons may still abound, as does debate on the topic in the comments on this blog. (I love all of you passionate readers, by the way.)

2. I spoke to the school I teach at during the summer. Turns out, both classes will run. I'll have two full days of work, Tuesday and Friday, to keep me commuting back and forth to J~'s this summer in short stints. Mixed feelings: glad for the work, glad for the money, glad for the time alone to focus on my work on Wednesdays and Thursdays. But also, disappointment, because I'd like to be in the country, I'd like to be with my love, and also, who am I kidding? I'm probably not going to be using those off days to focus on work. I'll probably be driving back and forth a lot more, that's all.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ten Thousand Feet

I’m on a plane to L.A. and I'm uneasy.

In two hours I will be with my brother, D~, for the occasion of his film school graduation. I haven’t seen him since Christmas. Tomorrow, we will be joined by my mother, father, father’s girlfriend, and two more brothers, J~ (whom I haven’t seen in a year) and A~.

With one exception, since my husband left me, I’ve never been in the presence of even two of my immediate family members at the same time. It’s not that I find it horribly difficult to be around them, it just hasn’t happened. With divorced parents, and siblings engrossed in their own busy lives all over the country, there just aren’t many occasions that we get together. It will be amazing to be so thoroughly surrounded by people who I know love me and will love me no matter what.

It’s just that I’m afraid I’ll fall apart.

The thing is; these are the people who also find me to be self-centered, rude, and overly emotional. It’s true, when I’m feeling raw, I can be all of these things. And I am definitely feeling raw these days, at least some of the time.

I think I’ve gotten past the shock of my husband’s departure, past the initial grieving pain, past the sinking in yes-this-is-real acceptance of reality. Lately I’m hitting what I can only characterize as an after-shock. I’ve been crying several times a day, struggling to keep on track with the basic details of caring for myself.

I keep flashing back to the unrelenting nausea in the first few weeks after A~ left. I recall all the times I had to abandon plans because my gut was so knotted I literally couldn’t stand up straight to walk across my apartment. I remember balling up in the fetal position on the floor of my shower, weeping uncontrollably, my forehead against the wet porcelain, water streaming into my nostrils.

It took weeks before I could get through a shower without breaking down. I think it had something to do with the basic ritual of bathing, of caring for myself so simply, which made the sadness really hit home. I had no idea I could ever experience this kind of visceral, devastating emotion. And I’m sure what I went through was nothing compared to the pain that others experience in the world.

It all seems so precarious all of a sudden. I can’t help but thinking, I could get hurt again. I might feel like that bad again one day.

It seems like I’m supposed to suck it up in the meantime, to be present physically and emotionally for others again, to keep on functioning in life as if this day-to-day stability weren't as fragile as I now know it is.

I suppose what it comes down to is this: we’re all doing our best to navigate the landmines, to heal from our wounds and bravely carry our scars. I’m doing my best, will do my best, will likely enjoy a great deal of this four-day visit, though possibly not every minute. My family will support me to the best of their ability, if it turns out I need it, just like we all do for each other. And if it isn’t enough, there’s always a walk apart and a cell phone call to someone who can listen. Barring that, I can write in my journal. Worse comes to worse, there’s always the shower. And that is, in its own way, good enough, and therefore beautiful.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Worm Snake

I had a boyfriend in college who liked to consider any given moment as if it were taking place in a dream, as if every detail were the product of some cosmic imagination. The song on the radio, the bumper sticker on the car in front of you, the clouds in the sky, the snippet of conversation overheard as strangers pass, all were ripe with symbolism. When something clicked, he called it kismet.

That boyfriend and I did not last, but his kismet idea has stuck with me.

Animals always seem to carry the most poignant meaning. Like, there was the time I saw a bird sitting on my bicycle handlebars. As I approached, I thought of something I'd read about birds as symbolic messengers. When the bird flew away, I noticed a note tucked into my brake cable.

Then there was the time my friend, S~, was agonizing over a difficult decision, on the fence, so to speak, paralyzed by fear. She heard a sharp, horrible keening sound outside her house, and found a rabbit literally stuck between the slats of her backyard fence. (Rabbits, according to David Carson's Medicine Cards, represent fear.)

And then there was yesterday, when I went out to continue work on my strawberry bed, and found a snake under one of the plants. It was dull brown, about a foot long, with a pink belly. I didn't know what kind it was, but I knew David Carson would tell me that snakes represent transmutation: transformative change. Was something changing in me? Did something need to change?

The snake wasn't talking. It wasn't moving either.

I was getting ready to poke it with a blade of grass when my cell phone rang. Looking at the display, I saw it was A~. I had called him the night before in a moment of weakness, a moment which had passed. I hung up on his voice mail, but he knew I had called.

It had been a month and a half since we'd spoken. I prefered not to talk to him at all than have another painful conversation in which I gritted my teeth against the harsh reality that this person who'd become so important to me could just walk away. I wondered if he truly wanted to be as far away from me as possible.

A~ and I met for the first time in Colorado. We ran into each other briefly and miraculously two months later, in Santa Cruz, California, where I heard a clear and jarring voice in my head pronounce that he and I were meant to be. I dismissed the premonition out of hand, and promptly forgot all about him.

Two years later, I found myself thinking I was ready for a relationship, while trying to decide whether or not to drive my questionable old Datsun to a Rainbow Gathering in Wyoming, or to remain for the summer at home in lovely, though boring, Connecticut. Brooding over the decision in an auto parts store, I walked by a woman wearing a bright yellow t-shirt with a hunting tourism slogan emblazoned in red letters across the chest: Give your best shot at WYOMING.

If that isn't kismet,
I thought, I don't know what is.

The next day I set off driving.

Three days later I was in Wyoming, where I bumped into A~ for the third time.

We've been together ever since.

That's how I used to conclude that story.

Well, we were together for twelve years.

We got married. We tried, unsuccessfully, to have a baby. We grew as individuals. I suppose you could say we grew apart, though I'd like to heap the blame a little more pointedly in his direction. After all, he went through the motions of commitment without ever really making a true commitment to me.

As much as I dreaded hearing his voice, I also wanted to talk to him. Most of all, I wanted to stop dreading hearing his voice. I poked the snake. And took the call.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Trying to decide if this snake is alive or dead," I told him.

It was stiff. There were flies on it.

"Sounds dead to me," he said, but I wasn't taking his word for it. I mean, how hard can you poke with a blade of grass?

We spoke for over an hour. I planted more strawberries. He admitted that he's sad that we're over, but also happy in his new relationship. He told me he hadn't been avoiding me because he wanted nothing to do with me, but because he thought I wanted nothing to do with him.

It's true, I'd become bitter and angry. I'd begun to look down upon him, to think of him as a low-life, a slug, a worm, and I imagined he thought of me in similarly negative ways. But if felt good to let go of that. To hear news of his family, to share news of mine. To laugh together. To enjoy his company a little, while at the same time knowing I'd never want him back. To discover that the venom had gone out of me.

Later, like any good millenium zoologist, I googled my snake. And learned that it was an eastern worm snake, killer of worms and slugs. And then I poked it with a twig. It was undeniably dead. I accepted the facts, picked it up by the tail, and tossed it into the woods.