Do you remember years back when roadkill was like the the butt of every joke? Maybe you’re not that old, but there was a time when roadkill was the funniest thing. Really. I was never much for them because I’m a militant animal lover, any animal. I notice every dead deer, possum, raccoon, skunk we drive by and wonder about their families, who miss them, whether babies are waiting for them back in the woods.
I had my own roadkill experience that wasn’t that funny. I drove down the entrance ramp from Miller Road to 14, mown green lawns on either side, and I saw two birds picking at something on the ground in front of me. They popped around each other in excitement. They were directly in my path. I drove on, didn’t slow. As I neared, I screamed, “Move, move, move!” I never swerved. “Move!” I hit one of the birds, and in the rear-view mirror the surviving bird was trying to get the dead bird back up again. I wailed in horror at what I had done, and sobbed. The bird lost its mate, its lover. Did it mate for life? The fledglings may not have made it. There was heartbreak and perhaps more deaths because of my (in)action.
Since I was so melodramatic, I fixated on this. Why didn’t I swerve? Did this mean I would act (or in-act) if I were the neighbor of a concentration camp? Would I have hidden people in my basement, or been satisfied with myself for reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Well. That gives you an idea of what goes on in my head. Twenty-nine years later, I still feel really bad about killing that bird, and would give to a bird roadkill widow and orphan fund annually if there were one. But maybe that bird widow, that single mama bird, rose to the occasion and became so much more than she ever thought she would be. I hate it when people say they became better people because of the tragedies in their lives, as if there is some redemption for evil things. Or some reward of peace after the storm. Neither of these are true. Things spiral, sometimes out of control, and finding meaning is an illusion. It’s random. But if it makes you feel better, go for it.