By Lisa Huddleston

Some days feel exceptionally raw as though you are being forced to walk around on sharp, pointy gravel in your bare feet. It hurts, so you have to walk gingerly pretending you are lighter than you are and are in no hurry to get where you are going.

Fall days are (sometimes) like that. The sun is over bright, and the colors hurt your eyes. If you are driving down a wood-lined road there is a good chance you’ll get a migraine before you’re even halfway to your destination. If you are riding in the passenger seat, you can close your eyes and cover them with your hands to block out the light. That can be a good thing.

Today I am definitely in the passenger seat, but I cannot block the flashing light. I am doing my best. I have watered the mums and other beautiful fall flowers. I have turned on the sweet sounding waterfall in the birdbath. I have opened all three doors between the screened-in porch and the inner sanctum of the house. And it is an absolutely wonderful day. Golden-lit, water-splashing, wind-chiming, dog-snoring, perfectly-perfect day. And I am trying to feel it all. To cover my overly sensitive eyes with creation beauty and to prevent the spiritual migraine I sense hovering in the waving periphery.deer-master1050

But last night while driving home in the dark my eyes were peeled. Deer with death wishes stood just outside of my headlights’ glare. They probably didn’t really want to die, but they just didn’t understand how fast and heavy my Outback was. I had to drive very carefully on the roads home. It would kill me to kill one. Death wishes all around.

Just last week, Chuck stood at my bedside in the early morning dark and said, “Lisa, I need to tell you something.” My heart jumped to just one million conclusions before he said, “I hit a deer by Miss Millie’s house. My airbag went off, and I came back home. Should I go back and look for the deer? He actually got up and walked away. He was huge! I hate that I hit him.”

I told him no. I held his head against my chest. I felt his deep sorrow and fear over his close call. But I knew we’d never find that deer and that there was nothing we could do if we did.

For the past week we’ve both seen deer everywhere we go. Dead ones lying on the sides of roads. Live ones standing at the edges of woods anxious to leap into traffic. Worst of all, deer you never see until you hear the thud and feel the bag against your chest.

Chuck said he thought about shrapnel from the bag. Was his one of those? Had the metal pierced him, and he was too shocked to feel it? Thank God it was just a thought. But the deer was real. At least a six-pointer. Beautiful and wounded. He probably died alone in the woods.

And so we keep our eyes peeled, knowing all along that another one is coming and knowing just as well that there’s nothing we can do about it. Raw, tender, we keep tip-toeing down the gravel road of life.

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