The Little Racoon

By 5:20AM I had pulled out of my driveway and started making my way to work. The heat that threatened hadn’t made an appearance yet but I sensed it approach and wondered if the temperature would match my day. My phone didn’t ring once all night. When that happens, the succeeding day usually proves to be interesting.
My internal jog through my day got interrupted by an animal on my side of the road, what looked to be an adolescent raccoon, That’s what I thought, anyway – it looked much smaller than any raccoon I’d seen before. I swerved around it, watching it drag itself across the road, seemingly with a single paw. It looked like it had already been hit some time before. I watched it in my mirror for as long as I could, watching all the other drivers be careful to avoid it. My thoughts changed. I started to wonder about what I would have told Elena had she been in the truck with me. What could I have told her? What would I have said if she demanded that I go out and make sure that it was okay. I didn’t think about work for the rest of the drive.
By 9:30AM, I had written twelve emails, built two spreadsheets, scheduled 3 production lines, had two meetings, and started preparing an action plan to make sure that we didn’t shut down a customer, in addition to answering phonecalls between 2 phone lines and 1 mobile phone. I missed a few and didn’t check messages until it was time to go home. The rest of the day was more of the same, right up until 6:15PM, when I shut everything down to go home.
I felt drained. I had thought that these kinds of days were behind me, and there are alot of them behind me ; hundreds and hundreds of hours worth of them – lost days and weeks and vacations of them.
Elena had started her first day of school and I’d taken a call from Mell when she got home, hearing about but not quite absorbing the details of how Elena reacted until I had a few minutes to process it later on in my day. I hadn’t even called back to see how the day had ended.
Mell’s been feeling rough lately and I’ve tried hard to be there in all the ways that I can but it’s work, sometimes, to forget about work.
These were all of the things I was thinking about on my way home and then I remembered that little raccoon. I started to look on the road and both gravel shoulders, keeping an eye for a little pile of brown fur. Sure enough, not far from where I saw him in the morning, there he was. On the other side of the road. I can only presume he had died, but only after he made it all the way across.
And, when I got home, all I wanted to hear about was how Mell was feeling and what Elena thought of her first day of school. Because, after the little raccoon, those were the only two things that really mattered.

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