For Those We Can’t Always Protect

For Those We Can’t Always Protect


In the aftermath of an accident, a reminder of how lucky we all are to live another day.

By Mary Laura Philpott

When my daughter opened the front door after a socially distanced walk with a friend, she called out, “Mom, I need to tell you something you really won’t like.”

Oh no, I thought. Did she and her friend forget to wear their masks and cough all over each other? Did a stranger in a trench coat flash them? Did someone in a van pull over and offer them drugs? She has just started high school, which as every parent knows — regardless of whether school is online or in person, pandemic or not — means I have recently added “child encounters adult dangers” to my repertoire of anxiety dreams.

“Up there,” she pointed up the hill of our driveway, toward the curve of the road. “I didn’t want to look, but …” It was a flasher, wasn’t it? “The shell is broken, and the body is definitely dead.”

“Oh! Sweetie, I’m so sorry. Is it…?”

“I don’t know if it’s him, Mom.” Her chin quivered.

“Would you like me to come look with you?” I believe in facing the unimaginable rather than pushing it away. I also believe it’s better to do it together than alone.

“Yeah,” she sniffled.

We trudged up the driveway, both of us hoping out loud that the hit-and-run victim she had seen on the street wasn’t Frank, the wild turtle who lives in our yard. Frank is almost as much a part of the family as our two dogs, although unlike the dogs, Frank is not a pet. We offer him an occasional snack of parsley and tomatoes, but mostly we leave him to eat according to his diet of foraged plants and various creepy-crawly proteins. He comes and goes as he pleases, sometimes knocking on our door to say hello.

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