If You Are Hit, You Don't Have to Fall
It was dusk on the snow covered roads in
the Colorado mountains. Suzanne was driving while enjoying the
in-credible silence of tall pine trees on either side of the
road. Suddenly Suzanne braked as she heard a thunk and watched
the vehicle two cars ahead of her swerve, correct and drive on,
as if nothing had happened.
The car immediately in front of her pulled to the side of the
road. A young couple got out quickly. A deer had been hit while
crossing the road. He sat on his crumpled haunches as if dazed
by headlights, not yet turned on.
Suzanne pulled over and got out of her car just as the cou-ple
was dragging the deer over to the side of the road, clear of any
oncoming cars. Suzanne stood in the middle of the road, slowing
The young deer was wounded but not dead. He sat, frozen like a
concrete statue. His eyes gazed nowhere. He was neither dying
nor rallying, just stuck in shock. The young couple was also
frozen, looking down at him, wringing their hands, dismayed as
to how to help further.
No one spoke. The silence was deafening. What to do? How to
help? Neither Suzanne nor the young couple had a gun to put the
deer out of pain. Suzanne called 911, and asked them to come to
put the deer down. Since Suzanne was half way up a steep
mountain pass; it would take time for aid to arrive.
It was cold. The couple hugged, reaching for warmth and
Suzanne walked over to the deer and knelt to be at his eye
level. She placed her hand gently on his neck, fearing what he
might do since he was a wild animal. The deer did not resist.
She gently began to stroke his neck saying quietly, “I’m sorry
this happened to you. Somehow it’s going to be all right. Take
it easy. It’s okay if you need to let go. We’ll help you and
take care of you. I’m so sorry.” She kept each movement calm and
deliberate to keep the deer from panicking.
The young couple hovered at the edge, nodding slowly as they
heard her words. The dusk was turning to dark; the snow
continued to fall silently, sticking to the eyelashes of the
deer who barely seemed to blink. Occasional cars and trucks
drove by, oblivious to the crisis at hand.
The deer stayed a statue; but his body was warm. Time seemed to
slow to a snail’s pace. Suzanne soon discovered a wound on his
left side, however, the bleeding had stopped. Suzanne continued
to pat the deer, repeating softly the same reassuring words. She
did not want the deer to die alone because she knew aloneness
deeply from within her own life story.
Suddenly, life came back into the eyes of the deer. He moved his
head, sat up straighter. Suzanne stepped back. The deer got up,
gazed directly at Suzanne and then at the couple as if to say,
“Thanks, I’ll be okay now.”
The deer initiated a long shudder that reached into every part
of his body. It was as if he was shaking off the trauma
completely. He then darted off into the forest, never to be seen
again. Would the wound heal? Had his life been saved by
kindness, concern, and hope? The shock he had felt only stopped
him for several agonizingly long moments.
The deer would go on to fulfill his rightful place in the
The 911 rescue call was cancelled. Suzanne and the couple hugged
each other as only strangers can when they have shared a
Suzanne climbed back into her car and drove slowly away. The
warmth from the car heater made her body shudder from the cold
she’d felt standing still, so alone with the deer and the
For Suzanne, when life gets hard, the dark green-brown eyes of
the deer come into sharp focus from within her mind. The story
of our lives is not about how many times we get knocked down.
Rather, it is about whether and how we get back up. Meaning in
life comes from helping others get up and learning from them how
they do it. That beautiful deer taught her to take the blow,
to accept help from others, to stay with the knockdown until
it’s understood, then to shake it off completely, letting it go,
with forgiveness, and then, to go on, knowing more.
If you have been hit by financial difficulties, natural disaster, illness or any other loss, please
read about Dorothea’s latest book entitled
Defining Moments: Breaking Through