The creature darted onto the highway just in time to connect with my brother-in-law’s front bumper. His daughter heard a thump but only saw a blur out of the corner of her eye, something hairy flying in the air towards the ditch.
“What was that?” Julia asked her dad as he quickly stopped the car.
“I think I hit a coyote,” he replied. “We’d better make sure it’s dead so it doesn’t suffer.”
Oh, yuk, she thought. This could be pretty messy. Even though she was a health caregiver, she didn’t relish the almost certain carnage she was about to see.
Stepping out of the car she immediately saw something on the road behind the car –a leg!
I’m not going to look at it, she told herself as she quickly walked by the limb, deliberately focusing on the ditch beyond. It must have been ripped from the poor animal upon impact. She could only hope that her dad would find it first and that it was already dead. There would be lots of blood from losing a leg is such a forceful manner.
Julia spotted the animal first. As she stared at its lifeless body she felt confused. It looked perfect, almost like it was just asleep. And it had four legs. She counted them twice.
“Dad, it has four legs!” she reported incredulously, still a little in shock at what had just transpired. “But I saw one of its legs on the road!”
“Well,” her dad responded, keeping the chuckle out of his voice as best he could, “he was probably carrying his dinner across the highway when I hit him.
So the leg wasn’t his, technically, unless possession is 9/10ths of coyote law.
As I heard my husband’s niece tell this story, I was struck by how traumatized she had been. How determined she was to see as little as she could, leaving her wide open to conjecture about having to view the gory details of a dismembered animal.
Julia can laugh, now, about the coyote with five legs –and we all laughed with her. But my mind wouldn’t let the story go so easily.
There was a time in my life when calamity and heartbreak, yes even tragedy, dogged my life like an unpaid landlord. Over time I found myself imagining events and outcomes of equal or worse devastation as were those that were really happening. Once I realized what I was doing I had to work very hard to stop these negative mental visualizations.
Perhaps it was then that I began choosing the direction I allowed my mind to travel –and understanding that there were always good things upon which to dwell. Contrasts between darkness and light, I chose light until darkness was overturned in my life.