The cement was cold. Our steps across it sounded hard and hollow like the pounding of a mechanical drum. The silence inside the warehouse seemed timeless, as if the moments lagged or leapt without solid measure. It’s odd how warehouses often seem distorted spaces where reality isn’t rigidly defined. It added a chill to our sad purpose.
Her body lay thawing in the center of the floor. It was still mostly frozen but a small pool of water was forming around her. Droplets of melting ice and blood glistened on her soft black fur. We bent down to examine her body. For a long moment, we touched her only with our eyes. The silence seemed to sharpen our focus on the task and when we spoke, it was in hushed tones even when we began to explore her wounds. How had she died? When? Who killed her? Why? Her body was found beneath a blanket of fresh snow. Gently, we turned her body over noticing the pool of thawing blood was growing larger. She had been severely wounded just before she died. A bullet wound?
We examined her eyes: the tissues so vulnerable to quick deterioration when exposed and so favored by scavengers. But her eyes were perfect and clear, almost as if she were still alive. The snowstorm must have covered her almost immediately after her death. I stared into her eyes counting back the infrequent storms and trying to place the date she was killed. Her beauty was unbroken by death and drew my attention back to her. Somewhere within, a song came to my breath and I began softy singing to her. The song brought feelings of gratitude and affirmation of the sacredness of life and death. Awkwardly, I remembered Carter and the law enforcement officers were watching but they stood back and allowed me to continue. Normally, I would never have done anything like this with other people watching. This time, it just didn’t matter. She deserved some human compassion… even if it was after her death.
The thawing ice formed a tiny pool of water in her tear duct and a single drop, like a silver tear, began to slowly trickle down across her long nose. Another and then another tear rolled down. In awe, as those who stood back now came forward to see this more closely, we witnessed her steady stream of tears. The wolf was weeping.
Later, we found out that this young female was the babysitter for her pack. She was the one that stayed behind to care for her young brothers and sisters. No one was ever prosecuted for her death. However, her beautiful pelt was used to create a wolf decoy to aid law enforcement agents in catching Idaho wolf poachers.