Spring 2010, Muscatine, Iowa
That morning, as I left for high school, driving out of our subdivision, I hit a squirrel. Right at the entrance to our neighborhood. I made the mistake of looking out my rearview mirror, and I saw him flopping around. His death was certain. I dreaded coming home from lunch to see his little body laying there as a reminder that I had killed one of my favorite animals.
I came home for lunch, and sure enough, he was there dead. I walked into our kitchen from the garage and told my mom I had hit the squirrel that now lay dead in the middle of the street. I got a little teary. It really did bother me. I told her I was worried about seeing it over and over again each day. And then I got giggly, because I knew it really was silly for an 18-year-old girl to cry about hitting a squirrel.
When I came home from school that afternoon, the squirrel’s body was gone. “Mom, the squirrel is gone now! Do you think someone picked it up?” “I went out there with a shovel, and I gently scooped it into the ditch, so you wouldn’t have to see it every day,” she said.
And though small and silly, that moment gave me yet another glimpse into the many, many ways my mom’s love and care for me takes physical form. She has never minimized my hurts and worries… and there have been a lot in 27 years.