Last Thursday evening I had a traumatic experience. On my way home I hit a deer with my car. I had never before hit an animal while driving. It literally came out of nowhere, just broadsided right in front of me. After the collision I frantically looked for a place to turn around and drive back to see if it was still in the road, and it was, sitting there unable to stand up but alive.
I positioned my car so that my headlights could shine on the scene of the accident so other drivers would be able to see the injured deer, using my car with hazard lights on to shield it from any further damage from other cars that would come that way. And so I was completely destroyed emotionally. I don’t even kill insects (other than flies and mosquitos). I (or Sid my knight in shining armor) trap and carry insects out of the house, especially spiders. We don’t kill them. Not even insects.
I was beside myself. I called Sid who told me to call 911 so I did. As I waited for the police I kept looking at the poor deer. I spoke to him and prayed that he wasn’t too badly injured. He did have blood showing from inside his mouth but I couldn’t see the extent of his injuries. He was alert, just not moving. . .
Passerbys were so sweet, understanding, kind. . . The precious deer and I waited together for a long time, being together, my feeling his situation, hopefully not in a lot of pain, or so it seemed.
When the officer arrived I was so hopeful that something could be done to heal the deer’s injuries. My mind had raced through several scenarios of taking him to the veterinarian, though I couldn’t quite picture splints on a deer, or perhaps surgeries would be needed for internal injuries. All of those thoughts were for naught.
When the officer arrived I was directing traffic, so his first words to me were very harshly spoken, “ Ma’am get out of the street. You will get hit. You are in danger. Get out of the street.” He was quite stern.
I was fairly composed as I asked him what we could do. He stared at me as if I had two heads. It was when he put his hand on his gun and said to me, “You know what needs to be done, right?”, that I completely lost it. I could feel my face transforming into a scrunched up prune face of tears, like an accelerated scene of the face from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, the pain and suffering coming over me visually in a flashing moment of reality.
I was as big of a mess as when I watched my mother die of cancer over twenty years ago. There was no difference. The loss of a created being, to me, felt exactly the same. I was inconsolable, weeping. He didn’t know what to do with me. I didn’t know what to do with myself. He suggested I wait at the restaurant parking lot just up the street.
In a little while he met me there. I fumbled through my purse, couldn’t find my insurance card. By now the officer’s demeanor had completely changed. He was SO NICE. He said not to worry about it but I was so hysterical I kept looking, rummaging through the glove compartment, calling Sid for the information. The officer told me the deer would not go to waste which only made me cry more.
As he was leaving he said, “Oh, no problem, but by the way you need to put on the 2022 registration sticker on your license plate. And oh, your left tail light is out but no worries. Mr. Mean sure had lightened up, even following me a bit to make sure I could drive since I was so emotionally distraught.
I really had trouble processing this trauma. And I’ve been through a lot. My sister Wendy gave me a perspective on Shabbat morning that I never would have thought of, but perhaps is one of the more important messages this experience brings to us.
Yes, I experienced the deepest sorrow, and as a result we often do grow in deeper understanding personally. But the bigger question is for what purpose was my suffering?
Most likely this policeman will never look at the killing of “roadkill” in the same way. My sister so wisely observed that the officer’s seeing the experience from my eyes, from my brokenheartedness, my brokenness, showed him an intense reaction that probably never would have crossed his mind. He’s a policeman who has had to work to separate his emotions from his work. He may even be a hunter who hasn’t personally felt another way to look at deer hunting, that is from the viewpoint of the life being taken.
With the amount of emotion I shared with him that night, and judging from his transformed demeanor in the restaurant parking lot, he may have gained some new insights that evening. I, too, would never have been able to see my suffering as serving were it not for my sister’s insightful analysis.
We each live such full lives, the more full when we are in relationship with others. When our words or actions are intentional or predictable we often think we know their impact, all the more reason to try to interact with others from a place of kindness and love. Even then we still often can’t predict the effect we have on others for this may not occur until years later. How much moreso do we not even think about our effect on others when not intended. I was so absorbed in my suffering that night and the days following that I surely was not thinking of my effect on the policeman!
Yet in every case, whether intended or not, our Abba uses our life experiences to bring us and those with whom we interact further on the journey toward Him. How beautiful the journey, and how beautiful those in our lives who help us see it with His eyes. (Thank you, Wendy/Yosie).
As this New Year begins, may our eyes be open in new ways that bring us ever closer to Him. And may our opportunities for the wisdom of our brothers and sisters in community to help us grow be abundant.
See you at services.