The Touch of a Wild Animal

Warning: this post has nothing to do with writing, and is sad, without a good ending. I’ll understand if you can’t read further. 

Yesterday someone hit a young deer and left her dying and alone on a rainy road in the forest. A friend of mine came along, and instead of driving by, stopped. Seeing how badly the deer was injured, she went for help. She called me since I live within a few hundred yards of where this happened, and then found her husband and his gun, in case that was needed. I agreed to meet them, but instead beat them there. 

The baby and I were alone for a few minutes. It was clear she was dying and I will spare you how I knew. Her beautiful large eyes saw me, her dainty legs tried to run. I spoke to her, trying to keep my very human voice from terrifying her. ‘It’s okay baby, it’s okay to let go, I’m sorry this happened, I’m sorry for your terror, it’s okay to go.’ 

No one should die alone. 

And she didn’t. I saw her death, seconds before my friend arrived. She and I waited in the rain, but there were no more heartbeats, no more breath. My friend bent to touch her side, to make sure. I think it was a touch of hope because we knew the signs. And yet she touched, just in case. A warm, caring hand over a still warm body, a still heart.

Together, we took hold of the baby’s legs and pulled her to the edge of the road, back to the forest she’d come from. Dragging her left her head cocked at an unnatural angle. My friend gently lifted the head to a more natural position. A more comfortable position. We stayed with her a moment longer, then hugged and went to our homes. 

I cried. A lot. And called my oldest sister to ask her to speak to the deer for me. I needed to know that my presence had not terrified the animal more, hastened her death. I needed comfort. As all big sisters do, mine knew exactly what to do and how to help dry tears.

Both my friend and I can’t lose the sensation of touching the deer. I hope my friend writes a poem about it because she is a beautiful poet and I know her words will be healing. 

When I came home I could smell the deer on my hands. The musk, the wild, the fear. I washed immediately and now wish I’d held that remaining scent of life a little longer. I can still feel the roughness of her hair against my fingers. And the weight of her, so slight, as we pulled her off the road. 

I have never touched a wild animal. I’ve been close to them, to bears and cougars in particular. But not to touch. It’s not the same thing as a petting zoo, this touching one that is truly wild, in its own home. It’s so wrong that it happened this way. 

I understand accidents happen, that this driver came around a corner on a narrow forested road, probably going too fast, and didn’t have time to stop. But the driver made the choice to keep going, to leave a living being to face death alone. Yes it would have been scary and I get that the person may not have been able to deal with it. But they left it to others to deal with it, to carry that touch, that smell, those dark eyes, forever. So for that, I have one word for the driver.



7 thoughts on “The Touch of a Wild Animal

  1. I am sorry you had to deal with it, but maybe better you than Art!! But I am also glad for the deer that you and Sabrina were there for it. People like you and her show he rest of us that there are still people among us who care.
    I know you are not religious and I am not much either but this came to my mind, “God bless you”. I dont know any equivalent for that.


  2. this is a wonderful telling and it shows what an expressive writer you are, lisa.. knowing you and your life i connect the emotion with that person that you have always been…i can feel the difference in this experience and other experience of loss and losing. thank you for sharing so well. most of all thank you for being you….


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