I hit a deer yesterday. With my car. On a two lane highway.
I had been aware of them and was being very careful, even though the sun was out and it seemed that danger on four legs couldn’t be too tricksy. But suddenly there was this creature, threading itself between my car and an oncoming vehicle.
I hit it. Detached and wondering even as I did so. Aware of the need to not hit the other car. Aware of the inevitablity of contact with the live and defenseless creature impossible to dodge.
I pulled over to the side of the road and watched the deer flop around on the pavement. It was heart breaking. The car behind me pulled over and two young women got out. We called 911 and described the scene to the dispatcher who must deal with this daily but for me it was no common place ballet I was watching.
Cars stopped in the road, providing a protective shield for the deer as it tried to get to its feet. Repeatedly. Its tongue was hanging out. It seemed to be talking to itself, doing a systems check, ascertaining possibilities. And then, after what seemed like and hour, it loped off into the woods.
I wept with gratitude and relief. To be an instrument of death was a burden I couldn’t much bear. I was grateful for the deer’s return to the safety of the woods, away from the stretcher of the asphalt highway. I was grateful to the two young women who bore witness with me and kept me company as I breathed with the deer. I was grateful that my car has only a few nicks and my person none at all.
Except for my heart. We can be so careful. We can do all the right things. And it matters not. Tender and beautiful things leap out at us and sometimes there is hurt. And we bear witness. We pay attention and we do our best and we motor on aware of the life we know so little of playing out all along our pathways.
All last night I wondered how the deer fared.