life and death
I hit — and probably killed — a raccoon with my car last night.
It was late, the streets were slick with rain, and I was looking everywhere but where the poor little creature was: at the lines on the road, at the car braking unexpectedly to my right, at the hands of my boyfriend, mid-conversation, as they gestured in my periphery. But then, clearly, a face. It’s the face, I think, that we would all make in the presence of our own impending death, in our last corporeal display of emotions before the eerie silence of the soulless body settles in.
I pulled over and cried harder than I have in a long, long time. I know that part of the burden of adulthood is a deeper understanding of the fragility of life, but seeing first-hand how easy it is to take life from another creature shook me pretty hard. I called on my faith more than I had in a long time, trying to remind myself that I am part of something larger than me or that cute little raccoon, and whether it be karma or fate or destiny or the hand of God leading me, I will find myself in situations I cannot control. After a few minutes, with my boyfriend’s hand in mine, I composed myself enough to pull away from the curb and head home.
But my thoughts wandered back to the raccoon. Was it a he? A she? A parent? Were there others, and were they watching? I couldn’t help but think of a family waiting in the woods for mommy to come, which sent me into a second round of tears. For the animals, yes, but also for me, as it awakened some deep rooted fears of my own. I have always been irrationally afraid of losing my parents. As a child, I would curl up around my dad’s pillow when he was away on business trips, trying to memorize his smell in case he never came back. Today, I curled up next to my mom on the couch as if I was trying to preserve a bit of her by osmosis. It’s strange, because I was raised with the philosophy that death is a comforting end to a life well lived, and not worthy of fear. Yet when faced with the idea of death, I crumbled.