I can sometimes embrace being single. Despite occasionally obsessing over finding a guy, I am independent by nature. Even in a relationship, I require significant time alone. And yet there are critical times in life when being on my own totally blows. I had one of those occasions today.
For the second day in a row, I got stuck behind a school bus as I headed home after doing some business in town. I can be an impatient (aggressive?) driver, but I told myself to chill. The bus would have to make several stops to let high school students out and, since passing is not permitted, I could spend the idle seconds petting the dogs.
After the first delay, the bus continued along the road as I followed. Then a deer appeared from the right side of the road in front of the bus. I know there was no time or space for the bus driver to react. And yet I hoped. I watched in horror as the animal was flattened beyond recognition. I pulled over (as did the bus) and shrieked, bawled and shook as my entire body broke out in a cold sweat. The wailing continued as my dogs frantically moved about trying to console me.
I have no doubt I was in shock. Somehow I pulled myself together enough to turn the car around—I couldn’t drive by That Spot—and returned to where I’d been in town, in desperate need to connect with another human being. I patted myself dry (no use, really) with the doggy towel I keep in the car and walked in the building. Ghostly white, hands shaking uncontrollably, tears streaming down my face, I collapsed in a chair and babbled something as people got me a glass of water and an “ice pack” to cool my body down. I remained there for half an hour, chanting “Oh, my God” incessantly until I started to feel faint. The image of what happened replayed over and over, in slow motion. (In truth, the incident, while I witnessed it, played out in slow motion.) I switched from sitting with my head between my knees and a package of frozen perogies resting on my shoulder to kneeling on the carpet, head down as if in prayer.
Finally, I got up, returned the perogies to the freezer and, still stunned, made it to the car. I worried that my dogs would be freaked from observing my hysteria, but they had resumed their naps. Oh, to be a pooch. I sat in the car and patted the dogs, calmly repeating their names as I tried to comfort myself and while waiting for my hands to shake a little less.
To be sure, what I observed would be upsetting to anybody. I just happen to be ultra sensitive when it comes to animals. As a child, I would leave the family room crying uncontrollably on Sunday evenings as a cheetah on Mutual of Omaha’s
Eventually, I drove home. There was no one there to hold me tightly, to let me break down again. There was no one I felt I could call and bawl. I changed my clothes and crawled into bed. Although one dog joined me and nestled up close to me, it wasn’t the same as having a partner to provide comfort and to let me release all the lingering trauma from the most gruesome scene I have ever witnessed.
I saw a life brutally taken in a few agonizing seconds. It pains me that I can’t change that. And I ache as I work through the experience on my own.