Feeling The Gunshot

Easter was super, awesome, exciting, exhausting fun. We loaded up the kids and headed home.

The way home is on The Beltline. A LONG stretch of road that cuts through farm land, forest, and city.

By the time we traveled down The Beltline in our mini-van, we were well past bedtime. My kids love staying up late.

One of them pointed out the police car ahead. Its flashing red and blue cut through the dark.

As we passed, I noticed the deer on the shoulder of the road. It lifted up its head.

We felt the police officer’s gunshot after we were passed.

I’m so glad my kids didn’t see the deer or know what they felt. The end of life. Right there on the side of the road.

But I heard that gunshot. Instantly reminded of the popping sounds at the rifle range at summer camp. The echo of a hunter’s gun in the woods. The bang from my neighbor’s house when he shot my brother in the leg over 20 years ago.

Felt the pop of air pressure. Memory of panic and isolation and loss.

“So sad.” It was all I could say.

“He had to do it, Sweetheart,” my husband said to me. “He put it out of its misery.”

I know.

Compassion doesn’t always come easy.

It seldom looks the way we wish it would.

In the van. Feeling the gunshot.

Knowing that, sometimes, mercy is all at once painful and beautiful.

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