ALOHA FROM JENNIE: I debated as to whether to write this post, since it would serve no inspirational or 'feel good' purpose. In fact, it’s a bit of a train wreck, so to those of you wishing to hold onto festive thoughts and a good mood, read no further.
It was a beautiful early island morning after the first winter storm of the year, with the sun starting to rise over the dewy landscape, a perfect time to drive the dogs down to their favorite beach for a walk. The three lane street leading to the shore narrows to a country road with only one lane in each direction, lining a sleepy residential neighborhood.
We glided down the road, and I slowed because a black cat darted across the street, followed a few yards later by a small dog scampering past. The street is dotted with cars parked alongside various front yards, but this seemed like an unusual amount of pet activity.
As I crawled along at a snail’s pace, I barely noticed an elderly woman on the opposite side exiting her parked vehicle with a small dog on a leash, but her larger dog caught my eye as it gleefully jumped out of her car without a leash and gracefully ran back and forth across the road while waiting for his owner to open her gate.
Unfortunately, a slow moving car appeared over the horizon and struck the dog. Now at a complete stop, I was horrified to see the forty pound dog rolling through a car’s wheel train, a sequence that occurred during a split second, and yet at the same time, in agonizingly slow motion.
A single loud long howl of pain filled the air, and then as the car slid to the edge of the road, the dog laid still. His shocked owner began to wail, bending over and gently laying her hand on her companion’s side. Her distraught and grief wracked lined face was beyond description.
You can imagine the rest of the scene, the car’s driver rushing over, neighbors spilling out of their houses trying to aid the dog and comfort the woman. There was no one at fault here, visibility was clear in the daylight, and no speeding was involved. And yet due to bad timing and circumstances, a horrible and tragic event occurred.
Illogical thoughts flowed though my mind, as I wondered what my own dog in the back seat may have been ‘thinking’ as we passed his fallen canine comrade. Did the driver know the dog owner, or was she just passing through the neighborhood? What twist of fate fuses three lives into one collision point with such sad impact?
How many times had I driven along this same stretch of road, next to pedestrians and pets, sometimes even glancing at phone emails, without incident? How many times have my own dogs not been on a leash, as they bounded with me over to the mailbox, or down to the trash dumpster, without terrible consequences?
How is it decided as to when we luck out, or when tragedy befalls us? What can I do to cherish what I treasure, because all too quickly, it can be snatched away? Accidents can occur whether you drive too slowly or too quickly. Is there anything that we can do to control our own destiny, or is it a matter of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time?
For those of you who will speed around me in the future, know that my pace will be in remembrance of an old woman, her dog, and a car driver, all of whom wish they could have the moment, before that terrible turn, back… but they can’t.