Sometimes I Cry

I’ve been driving for over a decade and, up until very recently, had never hit an animal in my car.

I would think to myself sometimes, “Is it possible for someone to drive for 50 years and never hit an animal?!?! Because if it is, I hope that’s me.”

I live in semi-rural Iowa, and for those of you who don’t know what that means, let me explain a few things:

  • Deer
  • Turtles
  • Rabbits
  • Raccoons
  • More Deer
  • Opossums
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Coyotes
  • Squirrels
  • Beavers
  • Birds (including, but not limited to robins, hawks, owls, and eagles)
  • Ground Hogs
  • Skunks
  • MORE Deer

These aren’t just animals you see in the woods every once in a while when you’re out on a hike. These are all animals I have seen lying dead on the side of the road. Morbid, I know, but it’s a fact of life in Iowa!

Ever since I can remember, seeing a dead animal on the side of the road, no matter how unrecognizable it was, would send shivers up my spine…actual shivers that you could see if you were looking at me. I don’t know what it was about those dead animals; I just could not handle it.

So, I had always been grateful for not having hit an animal.

Well, everyone’s luck runs out sooner or later. It happened this summer. There were two of them crossing the road as I drove the familiar country road to my parents’ house. I tried to stop. My dad always told me one thing about driving, “NEVER swerve unless you are going to hit a person. If it’s an animal, hit the brakes and stay in your lane, or you’ll end up doing a lot more damage and possibly involve other cars in a wreck.”

I didn’t swerve, I just hit my brakes. There was no one behind me, so I didn’t have to worry about being rear-ended, but it was all for naught. The first one crossed the center line into my lane just as my front tire rolled by and the second in time for the back tire. I knew what had happened. I started to cry as I looked back in my rear view mirror and saw them laying in the middle of the road. Smashed. Two salamanders. It was awful. I called my husband, and told him my streak was over.

Then, today, as we drove to his aunt and uncle’s house after church, we saw a big fat squirrel crossing the gravel road with a corn cob in his mouth. He had probably worked really hard to get that fat, and that corn cob would probably have set him for the winter.

We tried to stop. My husband slammed the brakes, but I’m pretty sure we stopped right on top of him. I told my husband, “Go! Just go! I can’t think about it anymore!” We drove off, and I started to cry. I said, “Did we get him?” As my husband started to nod, I said, “Don’t tell me the truth if we did!” His nod turned into shaking his head.

I guess the only good that came from this is knowing that the poor squirrel will never have to face a harsh Iowa winter ever again.

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