I have had a few episodes in my life that were sad and tragic. This particular one still almost brings me to tears, though.
When I worked at the Springfield Library and Museums Association, my office was in what used to be a doctor's house, the Kilroy House. It was next to the Donahue House and on the corner of the Quadrangle. There were trees and shrubbery and a small amount of wildlife - not a lot as we were in the middle of a city. Anyhoo, a squirrel was killed by a vehicle in the driveway going by the Kilroy House. Sad.
A few days later, baby squirrels began to emerge from a brick pile they'd been living in. Their mother wasn't coming back with food and they had to brave the outside world in search of sustenance. I found the babies wandering around near the house. There were about half a dozen of them. They were very cute. I'd never seen baby squirrels before. It was the end of the day and I didn't think through how totally helpless these creatures were. I arranged them all at the base of a tree so they could climb to safety (stupid) and started for my car. One of them ran after me in his toddley way. I actually screeched and giggled and ran from him.
I've always wished that I had just paused for a moment there, right in that very moment, to think about things, to realize that this baby needed a mommy and it was coming after me for help. I didn't think anything of it. Stupid. Tragically stupid.
I'm bawling right now writing this. I came to work the next morning and went to the tree to see if they'd made their getaway. Of course they hadn't. They were all dead. Their heads and upper torsos had been eaten by whatever got them. I had made such a huge mistake.
I have a few regrets in my life. This is the one that still pains me to this day, that this little toddling baby squirrel chased after me for help and I squealed like a stupid schoolgirl and left him and his siblings to die.