It’s amazing what we humans endure in the name of love, and through it all we spend a lifetime supporting those we love through the joy of miracles, reward, and happiness to coping with disaster, disease, and death.
In many ways, animals are a lot like us. They struggle with the pangs of loss, anxiety, and fear much like humans do. They have even been known to sacrifice themselves to save the ones they love.
In the wee hours of a cool and dark Saturday morning, my husband drove me to work. Driving slow with the headlights on to avoid hitting any animals, we spotted glowing eyes. As we got closer, a tall slender form came into view. It was a handsome buck with large antlers standing on the side of the road. Why didn’t he bolt when we came closer? The answer became clear when we passed him. His mate had been killed by a car. Her lifeless body was lying in the gutter by the sidewalk, and he stood next to her. His eyes pleaded with us for help. The sight was absolutely heartbreaking.
We came back by the tragic scene about an hour later with no sight of the buck. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brief movement and we turned around. There he was. He blended in with the background, but there was no mistaking him sitting next to her.
Later that day, the buck had gone. I felt certain he would return when it was dark and safe for him to come out. The thought was nearly too much to bear.
My husband and I came home around 10 p.m., driving by the side of the road where the doe still lay. Although I hoped the buck would not return to further tear at my heartstrings, there he sat positioned, sentinel-like, beside his love.
I believe that the buck stayed by her side until the next morning. That would be the last time he’d be close to her for she was moved later that day.
In the hours just after dark, I sometimes think I see the outline of a majestic figure with wizened eyes in the distance camouflaged by the surrounding brush staring at the spot where doe had fallen. Looking on, remembering her, and mourning the loss of his love.