Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cars and Deer Don't Mix!

This morning I drove to Franklin to take a silversmithing class...something I've wanted to do for a long time.  It was in one of the many gated communities that have sprung up along Hillsboro road...nice homes, small yards, little to no trees, but in the safety of a gated community.  When H was little I wished we lived in one of those, so she could play in the neighborhood with other neighborhood kids, but now that she's older I'm glad we stayed where we are.  Our old neighborhood has large lots, tons of trees, and an assortment of wildlife at any given time.

It's not rare to see a beautiful deer leap across the road in front of you, but until today I always admired them from afar.   I had mistakenly thought that they were afraid of cars.  After my class I was driving home down Hillsboro Road, and about 500 feet in front of me a beautiful gazelle jumped off the hill to the left of the highway, glided across the road and down the hill to the right, into a small set of trees.  I remember admiring the pure beauty of one of God's creatures doing what came so naturally...running.

Then, before I could really register what came next, I saw another one, running into the road right in front of me.  I slammed on my brakes, and in that split second, she froze, bending her front legs and looking right into my eyes.  The next thing I knew, I had hit her.  I skidded to a stop, thinking I had run over her and she was behind me.  Screaming inside the car, I pulled over and took off my seatbelt to run back to see how badly she was hurt.  That's when I heard the most horrible sound...a braying, long, drawn out wail that sounded like it was inside my car with me.  She was still under my car...I must have hit her and dragged her with me while I was trying to stop.  Words can't describe the horror I felt, the utter and complete sense of not knowing what to do.


My moaning almost matched hers as I pulled my phone out to call 911.  I tried to stay calm while telling the operator where I was, but when I hung up the phone I was all alone in the car with this poor critically injured creature trapped under my seat, making the most god-awful noise I had ever heard.  I didn't know what to do...by this time I was hysterical.  Every time I would think I was getting myself under control, she would start wailing again and so would I.  Finally, a volunteer police officer came and told me to get out of the passenger side, so I wouldn't disturb the animal (or see it), and a couple of men picked up the front of my car to try to relieve the pressure.  I was pacing back and forth, thinking I needed to call my husband, but in the state I was in I knew if I called him he would be really worried.  So I finally just sat down on the side of the road and curled up into a ball, crying. Then two angels...two women stopped and came over to check on me.  Their kind words and most importantly, very strong hugs, helped to calm me down.

I called J, spoke with the deputy, and made sure my car was drivable.  I don't know what they did with the deer.  I think they put her out of her misery somehow, because she finally stopped crying.  I know I probably over-reacted, but I will never forget the look on that deer's face the instant before I hit her, or her long mournful cries.  I also know it wasn't my fault, but I hate that the construction all over their natural habitat  forced them out into traffic.  It didn't damage my car, and I wasn't hurt, so I guess I was lucky.  But that poor deer, just following her mother or sibling or friend on a nice spring afternoon wasn't.   I guess the lesson for me might be that if I see one deer, that there might be more very close by, so I need to be more aware.  It's a lesson I won't soon forget.