The Year was 1985…
The day was the typical dreary, gray overcast that is familiar to anyone who has experienced a December in Pennsylvania. Sue and I were visiting her parents over college break. I was driving her 1975 Mercury Monarch. Sue was in the passenger’s seat and her Aunt was in the back. We were headed to a mall in Youngstown, Ohio to do some Christmas shopping.
We were on a two-lane stretch of road that was densely wooded. From my left, two groundhogs suddenly appeared and ran across the road. The first one made it safely. I wasn’t able to avoid hitting the second one.
You can see just how deeply this bothers me, even some 28 years later. I even recall what I was wearing (brown flannel shirt over a tan t-shirt and jeans). I remember the sound of it and how the steering wheel jerked slightly in my hands. I still have that awful image of that poor animal spread out on the road, as seen through a rearview mirror in my mind.
I’ll never forget how Sue cried. I remember offering up a prayer (that was when I use to have faith). It was the only time an animal was ever killed under the wheels of a car I was driving.
Until this past Saturday.
I was driving to Ryan’s office on Saturday morning. A squirrel darted between to parked cars on a residential street in my neighborhood. I was obeying the 25 MPH speed limit when I saw a gray blur from my peripheral vision. I didn’t even have time to put on my brakes or try an evasive maneuver. It was just that fast!
By now you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this. Well, thank you for bearing with me… I’m getting to that now.
Do No Harm…
I’m probably just like many of you. It bothers me to harm a living creature, let alone be involved in its death without merit or benefit; like a food source or safety concerns. Hell, lately I even hate to see a plant die. I know, I’m pathetic… but you’ll have to excuse me on this because my sensitivity is heightened over the past four years. Sue is no different. She is scared to death of spiders, but she would never kill one even if I’m not there to take it outside. She’d rather be shrieking like a lunatic as she gently brooms it out the door.Our children, Ryan and Kari, are raised with the same regard for all living creatures… do no harm. Kari takes this to an extreme. She actively saves animals that are in peril. I can’t tell you how many times she has carried turtles from the road!
I’m sure our family’s values on this regard for life plays large in how I feel about Ryan’s attackers, Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May (both of Newark, Delaware). I’ll never understand how they could go out, not only seeking to cause harm, but actually do it! To a human being! I’ll never get how there is lack of remorse… no accountability… no sorrow… no conscious. How is it that people like us can’t get past a groundhog dying and others seem insulated from beating the existence out of a person?
I sometimes wonder if these types of characters pulled the wings off butterflies when they were younger. It wouldn’t surprise me. Damn, they probably thought the little bastards deserved it?