Cowbird Story_aidanbauer


Pick: Mad Men

As I remember it, the day started out on a great note. It went something like this:

  1. Wake up.
  2. Look at the clock.
  3. Swear profusely.
  4. Dress faster than I’ve ever dressed in my life.
  5. Grab my keys and wallet and run out out the door to rush to a doctor’s appointment that was in ten minutes.

Thankfully, I made it to the appointment in one piece. The appointment itself wasn’t terribly eventful. I hadn’t had a physical in almost two years and needed to get this year’s flu vaccine, but nothing had really changed. Decline is like waves against a cliffside; they may stand tall and resolute, but in the end the waves will win. Water always finds a way.

As I drove home from the appointment, I passed a scene on the side of the road that caused me to disobey everything the Connecticut driver’s manual had taught me about rubbernecking. On the opposite side of the road from me was a police cruiser, and forty feet in front of it, parked on the other side of a driveway, was a black SUV with two people standing outside it on the passenger’s side. In between the two cars was a woman lying in the middle of the driveway. At this point I was slightly confused and a little worried. There was a police car twenty feet in front of this woman and no one was helping her or making any motions to help her get up. As I drove past, I saw she was lying on top of something, something small and brown and fluffy.

Loss is a different kind of sadness. It is belittling, it stands over you and minces no words in reminding you how small you really are. It takes a part of the foundation we call life, one of the pillars we know and trust, and erodes it ever so slightly. Then it sits back, pours itself a glass, and watches you do the rest.

I still remember that woman. I never saw her face, but if I did, her eyes would have been so deep I would have lost myself in them and never come back. I remember a sinking feeling the middle of my chest, that symptom of the realization of horror, and the timeless observation of John Donne, that death be not proud. I thought about emptiness, about having it all end suddenly without the honor of others watching me waste away. I thought about the scene, wondered what had actually happened, who the police would blame and who the Insurance companies would sue as they attempted to reduce the value of life to pocket change. As if pocket change mended broken bones and brought the dead back to life.

But the back roads of New England are not designed for wandering minds, and by the time I’d pulled into my driveway, not fifteen minutes later, I’d already forgotten the feeling.

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