I was gutted to learn the other day that Sam the Koala had died.
Those that follow the news will remember the devastating Australian fires of last year. We were flooded with heart-wrenching stories about kangaroos with burnt paws, tortoises with melted shells, baby wallabies with burnt ears and birds dropping from the skies because of the fires – a result of suspected arson. God, how selfish we humans are. And yet Sam served as a beacon of hope when she shimmied up to a fire-fighter and accepted a drink from his water bottle. If nothing else, I’ll bet that very moment made the burnt lungs and hours of tireless work worth it for this fire-fighter. Apparently, koalas aren’t the friendliest of creatures.
I remember crying after seeing pictures of Sam with her singed paws all bandaged up; and then laughing when I read that she had met a boyfriend, Bob, at the shelter where she was recovering. Despite the hundreds of lost lives, the miles of burnt forest, and the thousands of devastated lives, the story of Sam made it all somewhat easier to accept. It was no longer about loss and suffering; but about a lesson that one precious animal had to teach us humans: that, yes, shit happens, but it’s up to us to make the most of the shit situations, even if it means getting off our high horses and accepting a little assistance from someone we normally wouldn’t give the time of day to.