Last Sunday the world lost a very important life and I wanted to spend a moment here addressing this loss. I've had my car for 5 years and made it more than 103,000 miles without running over any living creature. On September 8, 2013, our Lord in Heaven saw fit to end this streak and took from this Earth one of the finest squirrels to ever live and breathe among the trees.
Arnold* was a fine squirrel, albeit slow to learn the basic rules of the road. I saw him in the median on Highway 70 outside of Kinston, NC. He was struggling to decide whether or not to continue his crossing voyage, apparently started in vain. He had already come so far but the weight of his decision was clearly weighing on him. I wondered what was waiting on the other side of the street (why did the squirrel cross the road) and pleaded internally for him to wait until the traffic slowed - wait until there is a break in the flow of cars. Our brainwaves must not have been matching up.
He decided to go for it. Half-way into the left lane his fright got the better of him and he decided to turn back, but a Ford F-150 was quickly approaching and Arnold seemed to lose all motor control. Instead of turning around, he continued into the right lane...my lane. All of this unfolded within a matter of seconds. I closed my eyes, held my breath, and prayed he would slip between my tires unscathed.
There were simply too many cars around for me to brake or swerve, and in this rare case, human life trumped that of Arnold's. Despite my better judgement, I looked in my rear view mirror to check on Arnold's plight and was dismayed to find he did not emerge victorious. The image will be with me forever, and upon realizing I had killed him, I immediately began sobbing.
I sure hope Arnold is resting easy on a pile of acorns in heaven. God knows I cried over him for more than 30 minutes like some crazy, squirrel obsessed nut bucket, but there was nothing I could do to avoid him.
RIP you crazy critter.
* Names have been fabricated to protect the identity of the deceased.
image via flickr (not actually Arnold...)