“Check with Anna on her project resources. Ask Sue if the library has resources for Andy. Hand back the practice introductions with feedback. Unpack the science materials for the lab this afternoon.”
One by one I checked off in my mind what I needed to do during my prep period before the start of my sixth grade class as I drove along the country highway to school. Twice a day, the highway is like a freeway– traffic to the tribal agency and traffic back towards town as people rush to work on time. I kept my distance from the car in front of me, I kept my eyes on the road and the mirrors because some people pass without following the rules of the road.
Cars were coming towards me, and a car was on my tail.
And a raccoon family popped out of the weeds to scamper across the road directly in front of me.
I had no choice. I could not stop nor swerve.
I was sick. My stomach sank. My heart pumped. Tears wet my eyes.
I’d been teaching at a school with mostly Native Americans, and we spoke often in culture class of the respect for all life. We spoke of the gift of life the deer and salmon gave to us. Now, I’d hit two from a raccoon family. I was sick.
I arrived at school and wondered what to do. I readied everything needed for the day, and my students soon arrived to class. We welcomed each other and shared any issues as we started, like we did everyday. And I shared how sad I felt about hitting the two raccoons.
“I had no choice. I could not stop nor swerve. Thump. Thump. I—“
And Sundown interrupted, “Oh, my Uncle Ray picked them up already. He’ll skin them for their fur.”
And the next person shared their morning greeting.
And that was it.
I hadn’t broken anything sacred.
Sometimes, life just goes on.
Image: Flickr by Sheri CC4.0