The Dark Road"Before you go, I wanted to tell you what happened last night," she says. We had been together, but in separate vehicles, and it surprised me to hear her short trip home, no more than a few minutes further than mine, could have ended up eventful.
"We were driving home, and as we were approaching the high school, just before the church, I saw what looked like a huge piece of cardboard floating through the air. It was a deer, it had been struck by a car. That's how fast it spun, that it looked like it was flying. Johnathan saw."
"Oh no," I said. He's a sensitive kid, and like all children, you feel a natural urge to shelter them from seeing animals in pain.
"He told me, 'We need to go back, mom, and see if he's okay'," she continued. "I knew it would be bad, but I turned the car around. The deer was clearly dead."
"Oh how sad," I said. It surprised me she didn't find a struggling creature, bloody, frozen and shocked. I have never (thank God) hit a deer or witnessed one meet its demise, so I don't know what that's like. I never want to.
"They must have been going very fast to have killed him so suddenly," I added. It's a village road, one you're not supposed to speed on, but we all know how those things go.
"Well, as we sat there, and I explained to Johnny that the deer was dead, while we were sitting across from the church, he whispered, 'We need to say a prayer, Mom." Her eyes widened in the same way I can imagine they did at that moment, in the car, listening to her son ask to pray for a dead deer.
"So what could I do but begin praying?" She says, breathless, now, still surprised at the entire incident.
"I watched him cross himself, in the rear view, and as I began to pray, he repeated after me."
"Wow," I said, amazed, and yet also proud and scared for my nephew, this boy whose heart pangs for all living things.
"You know, it goes to show, we really only can thank ourselves for how much he loves animals."
"Oh, without a doubt," I said. It was a sad story, but pretty much encompasses so much of our childhood, growing up, sisters... side-by-side, in the back of a car parked, on the side of the road, waiting for our mother help an animal to safety.
I told her just yesterday, I need to write this down, this conversation, for so many reasons. Mainly, for our own children to use to make sense one day, of where we came from, and how our hearts ended up so big. I hope I did the moment justice.