Today is one of those days where I kept seeing lots of road kill, and road kill in general makes me feel incredibly sad. I mostly saw entire dead raccoon families, although I did see a cat, which made me tear up quite a bit. There's something really depressing about seeing all these little bodies along the side of the road, especially so frequently on a single day. Many of them have their mouths open in a final silent scream, or they have their heads down, forever in a somber bow to the pavement. The worst are the pets, like dogs and cats, who will never go back to the warmth and welcome of their loving homes.
One time I was walking my parents' dog Otto with my dad near their house. We were heading into the nearby forest preserve for our daily stroll, and it was dusk, so a raccoon was traipsing along the shoulder of the road, looking for food or something. A white pickup truck was coming down the street, and the raccoon saw it, so it tried to get over to the side. The driver decided it would be fun to drive over the poor raccoon, and the man in the truck slowly smoked his cigarette while he steered his truck toward the curb. I actually saw the raccoon stop, turn around, put up his hand, and scream as the truck ran him over. The raccoon tried to drag himself onto the grass, but he was barely moving and was mortally wounded. The pickup truck slowly drove away, and the driver flicked his ashes out the window as he gradually merged back onto the road. I couldn't help but burst into tears (as I'm doing now as I write this). I was outraged and my dad was speechless, but weren't able to write the pickup driver's license plates down in time, to at least report his despicable behavior. It was all so pointless and horrible and cruel, and I was ashamed to be human.
Anyhow, I have my own thing I do in order to make myself feel a little better about these departed souls. I make a tiny sign of the cross with my index finger three times while I'm driving, whenever I see any kind of road kill. I feel like it sort of helps "bless" the poor souls who lost their lives in such a quick but cold manner. What does this say about me as a person, that I get weepy seeing such animals mushed on the side of the road while cars and trucks whiz by? I don't know. No one else really seems to notice or care. I'm sure people will think I am very odd or dorky or dumb, but I don't care. It makes me feel better that at least one person (me) is thinking about these lost lives, and that these creatures' absences are noticed and felt. The whole thing just seems so heart wrenching to me.
(Photo courtesy istockphoto.com)