Today as I was taking my walk through the woods on the bike path and I stopped to sit on a bench and write a few thoughts down. You never know when just the right combo of words and sentence structure come together to exactly describe what you are trying to get across. It’s exasperating when you can’t get it right, so when a sentence comes to me, I have to write it down before I forget. I was busy taking pictures too, because in the fall, the scenery changes everyday. I love the colors and smells of fall so much, it’s like I can’t look enough to take it all in. I just stand and look, look, look and then as you walk it changes and you have to look, look, look.
So here I was sitting on this bench writing a few thoughts down. I stand up to keep going and there standing about 10 feet away is a deer. Now this might not sound spectacular to you but it was to me. To gain some context to this, I have to divert the story and go back in time a bit. Some of you know this story, but I have to relay it so everyone is up to speed. When Dad died and we had to choose a place for him to be put to rest, we choose a spot next to a field, back away from other “people” and close to a tree. Since he was an avid outdoorsman and sportsman, we wanted to honor that part of him that liked the quiet and beautiful outdoors.
At his burial, we had a brief graveside service and during that time, we noticed that some deer had come out in the field behind the grave. There were about 200 people at the service and these deer came walking out into the open field and walked towards where we were gathered. They stood there for quite some time watching us. The next day, several people reported back to us, that they saw some deer there when they visited the site too. I have been back there about 100 times since and I have never seen another deer. I like to think that those deer were showing a bit of respect for someone who really did love them. Yes he hunted them, but he respected them and thought they were beautiful. Since those days, I have come face to face with deer on several occasions. They are always alone and they don’t run away when I come upon them. They just stand and look at me for a while and I try to infer what they want to tell me. No, I do not believe in magical deer. I do not believe that somehow these deer are my Dad. But I do think that it is a sign to me, almost like a reminder that I am supposed to get something.
Well today as I saw that deer, it stopped me in my tracks immediately. I had been in the woods for several hours and I know the sounds an animal makes as it goes through the woods. You can almost tell from the sound of the leaves and twigs being pushed around, if it is a big animal or a little animal. I am familiar with those sounds. This deer had come out of the woods somehow, and I hadn’t heard a leaf crack or twig move. I looked up and there it was. We stared at each other for quite a while, neither one of us moving a muscle. Then I started to walk towards it, until I was about 10 feet away. It didn’t move a bit. Then, of course, being a girl, I started to get teary eyed. I remember what I’m supposed to get out of these little meetings. My Dad is with me. Wherever I go. No matter how long I’m here without him. He is near. And the love he had for me and his belief in me that I am smart, funny, beautiful and capable did not go away when he went away. What he saw in me, as my dad, it’s still there, but I have to remember it. I have to carry it around with me. That’s what the deer means to me.
I turned around and started to walk away. And I thought, “Oh, I should get a picture of it” but it was a bit farther away by then. And then it left and ran off into the woods, making quite a racket as it went. I am always left a little rattled after these encounters because I know they are special and they won’t always happen. But I embrace it for the peace it gives me and will carry it around with me. I turn around and keep on walking.