Sarah Calvert

"Dearly Beloved how truly I see...." American Songbook


A beautiful deer and her babes at the cabin..

Oh dear. Oh deer. Oh dear, the deer! Those weren’t exactly the words that escaped my lips last week as I was driving to work along Hiway 3A towards Nelson. I wasn’t that eloquent. I think I said something along the lines of “What the fuck?!” As the car jolted and the sound from the impact reverberated through my ears, then was followed by a shrieking, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” then a soft whispering, “Oh no. Please no!” through sobs and tears. I  looked in my rear view mirror to see a beautiful doe lying in the middle of the highway. She raised her head wearily for a moment, taking in her last view of this world, and then I saw it drop quickly to the pavement.  It all happened in about 20 seconds. Once I breathed a few deep breaths, I got out of the car and began walking back to the accident site. A large 18 wheeler had pulled over and the driver was walking towards me, carrying the side mirror in his hand. “Are you okay?” he tentatively asked, as he could see I’d been crying. I nodded and just repeated, “Yeah, it’s just so sad. It’s so sad.” He tried to comfort me and told me to just relax for a while before driving again. He assured me he’d take the deer off the road so as to not cause another accident. I got back into my car and pulled over into a nearby parking lot where I called the school to let them know what had happened. The adrenaline was still rushing through me so I crazily said, “Oh, I just hit a deer and my car’s kinda trashed, so I’ll be about 20 minutes late.” After talking to a couple of friends, who both confirmed it sounded like I was in shock, I called the school back to say I wouldn’t be in that morning at all. The thought of managing twenty-five grade ones, as cute as they are made my head spin and I worried that I’d break down into tears, especially if I had to read them any books that featured deer. 

 

I was that kid who was traumatized (I’m sure there were many others) after watching Bambi. I still remember peaking through the holes in my nana’s multi-colour acrylic afghan, afraid to watch, but wanting to see what happened nonetheless. That afghan was soaked with tears that afternoon. And now, after all these years, I’m still that girl who cries in movies, films and listening to music that moves me. What can I say? I’m sensitive. I inherited that trait from Mum, who was most definitely a crier. I remember afternoons together crying on the couch watching movies like “Cinema Paradiso”, and then evenings crying together in the living room listening to the soundtrack. That Ennio Marcone sure knows how to make music. 

 

It’s one of those things that has been a blessing and a curse in life. The compassion I feel for others is on one hand, beautiful and I feel that it’s a gift, but on the flip-side, that means I end up crying—a lot. And so it was no surprise really that on the day I hit the deer (rather, she ran into me) there were tears. After sitting in the parking lot for about 20 minutes waiting for a friend, I decided that I’d go back to the accident site and do a little ceremony of sorts for the deer (yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you Toronto folk laughing already). I didn’t know what that would entail; maybe just looking at her and saying a couple of prayers. However, when I drove back, I could see that she was gone. Only the blood stained pavement, adorned with smears of where the truck driver had dragged her to the side remained. I imagine that someone hopefully had some venison burgers and steaks make up with her, and that made me feel somewhat better.

Since then, I’ve been driving slower (no a bad thing) and continuing the process of really slowing down. The old me would have driven right to work, completely stressed and in denial of my feelings of shock. I would’ve pushed on through and ended up in a far worse state, than if I actually allowed myself to feel the sadness and accept that I was really shake up, which I did end up doing by cancelling my teaching gig. 

Last week I wrote about impermanence, so I had this in the forefront of my mind, and really had to delve into those sentiments and reflections after the accident. I know the whole adage, “accidents happen” and of course they do. I do feel however that I’m glad I took some time to just feel the shock in my body, and that I took time to relax my nervous system (I went to the hot springs the next morning), allowing myself some space. Last night on my way back to the cabin I saw a deer that had been hit along the side of the road, about fifty metres from where I had my accident last week. In that moment, I said a little prayer for its little soul and kept driving home, calm, serene and accepting of all that is. I slowed down a little and softly sighed, “Oh dear.”

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