Citizens of Toronto set up memorial for dead raccoon - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Citizens of Toronto set up memorial for dead raccoon

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It all began with a note. "Help is on the way." (PHOTO: Twitter) It all began with a note. "Help is on the way." (PHOTO: Twitter)
Toronto -

Death is unfortunately a part of life. We're not sure if we'll be gone in 5 minutes or 50 years, but the reality is one day we will be gone.

"No one here gets out alive" as Jim Morrison said.

But I can only hope, that when my time comes, I am surrounded by loved ones and then remembered for what I've done with this life. Hopefully, it was good. I told a joke once. Some people laughed. I'd like to be remember for that.  

The thought of dying alone instantly brings a swell of tears to my eyes. On Friday, I came into work to find such a story. But by the end of this story, my eyes weren't filled with sorrow, but rather hope and a sense of restored faith in humanity. This story was about the death of one being, who died all alone, unnoticed at first, on a city sidewalk in Toronto, with no one around to comfort him in his final moments. But in the end, the legacy of this being, however manufactured, resonated with millions. 

It all stated when Jason Wagner of Toronto tweeted at the city, "There's a dead raccoon on the sidewalk." 

Paraphrasing, the City of Toronto tweeted back, "We are aware. Animal Services has been notified."

That's the end of it right? Another nameless piece of roadkill picked up and disposed of with the rest. Right? Wrong. Animal Services never came. and much like in life, the poor little raccoon was alone with no one to mourn his passing. 

That is until the people of Toronto became aware of the situation.

It began with a simple note: *Rest dear raccoon, help is on the way from the city.* But the help never came. Instead, an outpouring of love, support, and respect for the little perished procyonid. A memorial for the critter was set up. And the memorial grew. 

No one knew the critter personally. In life, he may have been a jerk. He may have spent his nights scattering the garbage cans of local business and leaving a mess for those opening up shop in the morning to clean up. But he didn't mean anything by. He was only trying to do what a city raccoon has to do: Survive.

If there is an upside to death, it has to be forgiveness. Perhaps the bandit-faced raccoon had inconvenienced a shop owner or city worker sporadically, the people of Toronto were not going to let him leave this world without some sort of respect and dignity. 

So as he lay on his back, rigor mortis already set it, Toronto made sure he was remembered. 

They named him Conrad. They left a single rose. The kind you get from a gas station when you are driving home and forget that it's your anniversary. You know, the kind that counts. 

Someone dropped off a photo of a raccoon. Conrad from happier days gone by? Or -perhaps just a random photo of a raccoon meant to represent Conrad, those who lived before him and those who will continue to live the survivalist life of an urban forest animal. 

Someone even placed a cigarette in his right paw. Might as well. They can't hurt him now. We can't take stuff with us when we die, but just in case, might as well relax with a smoke. 

Hours and hours passed and the makeshift memorial grew, stretching well into the night. As the sun set, the sidewalk that became Conrad's death bed became illuminated not by the city street lights above, but by the numerous candles lit in his honor. 

Mourners took the time to hand-write cards of condolence, each message personalized to a raccoon they never met. 

Twitter users began digitally paying tribute to Conrad with the loving hashtag #DeadRaccoonTO. Millions from across the globe instantly became aware of Conrad's demise and began paying their respects. 

Eventually, Animal Services did show up to take Conrad to his final resting place. Which I am assuming was a proper burial in a pet cemetery and not some city animal incinerator where all road kill is taken. But just because Conrad's earthly body was removed, doesn't mean people forgot. Even after he was picked up, the memorial to honor and remember the little raccoon who may have been alone in death, but now lives on in the hearts of millions, remains. 

Apparently, even in the afterlife, Conrad the dead Toronto raccoon, acquired a Twitter account and has been tweeting out messages of gratitude and love. 

"Hello from raccoon heaven," Conrad tweeted. He plunged into the next life head first, while taking time to reflect on what he'll miss in this world. 

"Thank you whoever brought me flowers. I used to love flowers," one tweet said. 

Conrad later tweeted that leiu of flowers, he would like donations to be made to the Toronto Humane Society, to help other animals.

And while he was certainly moved by the love and support shown to him on the streets of Toronto, he had a final message for us left behind mourning him and wondering if he is OK in raccoon heaven.

"No cars and lots of trash cans for me!!"

Sounds like he'll be just fine.  

Conrad, we will remember and we will never forget. 

"Your candle burned out long before, you legend ever did." - Elton John

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