On Tuesday I returned from Maine where we buried my grandmother on Raymond Cape. My little one and I took the train back here from Rhode Island, following the tracks that run along the Connecticut shoreline. It was very foggy so we often looked up to a view of pure milk, nothing visible except a few pilings under hints of enormous, invisible bridges. I dozed off and for a second entered some light-filled paradise which reminded me of vignettes I'd seen modeled inside scallop shells as a child, the silica encrusted castle of the Sea Horse King. I heard a voice say "she's really enjoying the animals here," which caused me to imagine my grandmother restored to her prime delighting in all the exotic, docile and extraordinary animals groomed by angels in heaven's stables, because how could there ever be a heaven without animals?
She had died the previous Thursday, my sister had called to tell me she wasn't doing well a little before I had to go pick up my kids from school. I was pretty upset so it seemed best to walk, and when I reached Prospect Park Southwest was amazed to see an enormous and immaculatley dapper raccoon ambling in the middle of the sidewalk. For some reason my dog didn't bark at it, and it slowly made its way back in through the park's wrought iron fence and up a silvery grey tree trunk a few feet beyond, it's grey belly blanching to white against the small tree's smooth bark.
It struck me as unusual to see a raccoon in the afternoon so I checked the clock to see what time it was. Later I found out it had appeared at the same moment my grandmother found the breach that leads from this world to the next. In all the years I've lived here, I've never seen a raccoon, although I've heard about plenty of the trouble they've caused. Of all the moments to finally see one. It was good company for a difficult moment. Life without animals is unimaginable, and so is death.