This last Sunday I was driving on the street in Fort Collins, and I was shocked to see several wild turkeys that had been been struck and killed in the road. There was one survivor struggling to stay alive. I kept driving but burst into tears at the thought of the bird dying in the street alone. Cars avoided the injured turkey but no one stopped. My heart demanded that I turn around and take the bird to the veterinary hospital, but my brain argued that I should just keep going and not intervene with wildlife. My heart won. I scooped the bird up and placed it on the floorboard by the front passenger seat. Eyes open and still breathing, the bird had a compound fracture of a wing. Wild turkeys aren’t beautiful, colorful birds, but I saw myself reflected in it’s eyes. We spoke in unison ” Please help me, it hurts so much.” My mind went from the turkey, to me, and to Roger as he was dying. I couldn’t keep the real and the memories apart. I was captured and tortured by my vision of Rogers last breath and my feelings of pain and deep sorrow.
I got the bird to the veterinary hospital, and they called the Raptor Society to come pickup and evaluate. Waiting and crying were the only things I could do. Eyes open and still breathing…
A young woman coming to visit her injured kitten stopped to ask me what was going on and she sat and stayed with me. We covered the bird in a towel and checked every few minutes to make sure it was still breathing . I doubted they would be able to save or rehabilitate the young turkey, but euthanization would end it’s pain. Someone would witness it’s death and
it wouldn’t die alone on the road. My companion agreed and said she was so grateful that her kitten would survive. We waited together until the bird was picked up. I don’t know my companion’s name, but we were together,shared our vulnerability and saw how fragile life is. Thank you.
I cursed my out of control emotions and my determination that this young turkey would not be roadkill. The past and the present were tangled up. In that moment I knew pain and death did not ask permission to attack our complacent and ordinary lives. Death can happen in an instant or slowly day by day. Then, a couple of days ago, I saw a group of wild turkeys crossing the road in the same place, it was their path. I sat and watched them cross and I took a deep breath of relief and comfort. They all made it across. Eyes open and still breathing.