Back in my “numb” years, stumbling through life sleep walking, there were moments. Moments of real. Moments of being awake in that moment. One of those moments was the deer.
I was driving to my final exam in math. I made it down the one mile dirt road and turned onto the hard road as I saw a truck hit a deer. I immediately pulled over and ran to the deer. She was so beautiful. I had seen deer in the woods growing up but I had never been so close to one. I had no idea how bad her injuries were. I ran back to my car, opened the passenger door and reclined the car seat. I jumped in the car and drove it right up next to her. My then 100lb self picked up that enormous deer and put her in the car.
It took me 30 minutes to drive to the vet office. In that 30 minutes I stroked her head and told her she would be okay. She licked my hand. At the stop light I leaned over and kissed her on the head as my tears for her dripped right onto her nose. Her eyes were so beatiful. They were the deepest brown. She smelled like the earth smells after it rains and the sun shines through. I loved her with every part of my being. I comforted and shushed her like a mother does her baby but I didn’t realize this until 5 years later when I held my own child. She was as soft and silky as velvet and my hand stroked her face as I drove the entire way.
When I got to the vet, the men lifted her out of my car, as they questioned how I managed on my own to get her in the front seat. They shook their heads at my recklessness, “at any moment she could have started kicking and going crazy!” She didn’t though. They carried her in and that was the last I ever saw of her but I have thought of her sweet face no less than a thousand times since. The vet was a friend and I knew he would do everything possible to save her.
Because I stopped for the deer I missed my exam. I failed my math classs. It was the only credit I was missing for my Early Childhood Development Degree. I didn’t get my degree that year because of that class. Almost 10 years later, I had a five year old daughter and I decided to call the college. The same Professor was there and remembered me, and the deer, and math class. I told her I really wanted to get that one class done nomatter what it took. I really wanted to get that degree and have those years in school to not have been wasted. While on the phone, she substituted a science class I had already taken for the missing Math course, and just like that, my degree was complete. I got my diploma in the mail a few days later, 10 years after I had even been on that campus, saying I had just graduated.
I looked at my diploma and all I thought about was the deer. The piece of paper in front of me just didn’t seem to have any real meaning. The memory of the deer mattered.
She didn’t make it. I had made grand plans with the vet to go with him and release her right back where I had found her but late that night she developed a high fever and she passed away. I cried for days. I wanted to save her more than I had ever wanted anything. I took comfort in knowing that after she experienced such a trauma, I could show her love, she knew she was loved. Even as she was suffering, she showed me love. I was suffering, but she didn’t know it. I was numb. But she restored my life in those moments with her.
You just never know which memories will stick with you forever. I never think of the years I spent at college. I have no memories there. My heart only remembers, the deer.