By Kevin Sedelmeier
I felt ready for Easter. I had read the little black Lenten book with stories and Scripture passages for the past 40 days. I had attended the Passion Play at St. Pius X Church.
So, as we pulled into our neighborhood Holy Saturday night — after attending a live show featuring some of the city’s best musicians playing the “Jesus Christ Superstar” soundtrack in its entirety — I felt like Lent had been an effective time of preparation.
Throw in CRS Rice Bowls and seeing the film “Jesus Christ Superstar” on the big screen with my sons a couple weeks before, and I had a Lent focused more on the doing as opposed to the not doing (e.g. giving up candy or soda or fighting with a sibling).
But as we pulled onto our street, my wife noticed something in the middle of Six Mile Lane, which was not uncommon since a variety of critters traipse through the tall grass by the train tracks just beyond the road.
Within moments after going in the house, we saw a car stopped on Six Mile with its flashers on blocking one of the two lanes. When we made it out to the street, a young woman, probably in her early 20s, stood by her car, intermittently waving cars past like a makeshift traffic guard — all brought on by her own doing, her own compassion and awareness.
Because she was so upset, I erroneously assumed she had struck the possum. She hadn’t. She stopped because someone else had.
I was in and out of the house dialing Animal Control, 911, Metro Safe, whoever might possibly respond to the seldom mentioned scenario of a severely injured possum blocking the road in a way that could cause a wreck.
Another car had stopped, and I assumed it might have been following the young woman’s car, but it wasn’t. The couple in the car were strangers, too. But before that car left, the passenger had hugged the young woman and gotten her phone number, presumably to check later on what eventually happened.
As my wife and I waited for the police alongside the young woman, I noticed tears rolling down her cheeks. Most cars carefully maneuvered around the possum. It was like the drivers could tell something was wrong and slowed down, almost out of respect. This prompted the young woman to say “I guess people are being nice because it’s Easter.”
There were some gawkers, which is expected in a scene such as this, a few loud, loitering teens oblivious to the decency and maturity and emotion the young woman showed. Something in her face — in how she conducted herself — it all conveyed decency and humanity.
When the police arrived, they said animal services couldn’t be reached, and they would have to handle the situation, which ultimately meant carrying the possum out of the street and into the brush near the train tracks with the help of our snow shovel. They then asked all of us to disperse so they could end the possum’s misery, the misery that made him bleed and unable to move.
Before my wife and I went back in our house and the young woman got back in her car, I told her how kind she had been to the animal and how this spoke to her character.
She smiled, but it was obvious she wanted no accolades. You could tell she didn’t think she had done anything special; it was like she felt that anyone would stop and help one of God’s creatures, right?
While my Easter preparation during Lent was nice, it was also regimented, enjoyable and easy. But what this young woman did was not planned or comfortable.
For whatever reason, she found herself on Six Mile Lane around 10:30 p.m. on Holy Saturday. Even if she had been the one who hit the possum, she would have been under no obligation to stop. After all, he was nobody’s pet; he was for all intents and purposes a wild animal.
But on a starry Easter eve as the subdivision lamp lights cast down a glow, and the young woman’s headlights drew attention to the possum so those passing by would see and avoid him, I saw, without a trace of pretense or preparation, real sacrifice, generosity, respect and compassion from this young woman, whose name we didn’t even get.
Thanks to her, I was now really ready for Easter.
Kevin Sedelmeier is a parishioner of St. Pius X Church.
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