On my way home from work, I was rejoicing about my four-day weekend. I was on a three-lane interstate preparing to exit when the truck in front of me braked. Mildly irritated, I braked to avoid rear-ending him. Then I saw a creature running for his life- an opossum.
(editor's note: opossum or possum? What's in a name? I tried to google and other word nerds are also stymied. I shall use "possum" from this point in my story)
So he somehow made it across the second lane of traffic, despite the fact it was rush hour. I continued to watch him in my rear-view mirror and felt panicky and hopeful that he'd make it across. He was so frightened at this point that in his all-out mad gallop, he stumbled into the third lane. I saw a huge RV headed for him. The RV didn't swerve nor appear to brake. I can't blame the driver; it happened in a split second and he/she may not have had time to react. The huge vehicle bore down on the creature running for his life and I watched as a big black tire swallowed him whole.
I flicked on my turn signal and exited.
Even though the entire event took only a second or two, I was wide-eyed with a sort of disbelief. That animal died for no cause. He spent the last moments of his life in abject terror. The only good thing to say is that his death was probably relatively painless. But his carcass will lie in the road and be run over time and time again until it is unrecognizable.
I drove in silence for a few minutes, then inexplicably started to cry. I think it started when I saw him stumble in his panicked state. He didn't seem like an ugly, smaller version of an ROUS, he seemed like a creature running for his life. Sure, I'm smarter than he. But do I have more purpose? I'm not going to wax philosophical here, because I didn't while I drove home. I could think of nothing but how sad it was that he was so scared and then so dead.
I came home and petted my sweet, bratty doggie and wondered if the possum had babies that will starve now.
I could make this some powerfully poignant reflection on life and death, but I won't. The possum died and I cried. How weird is that?