I ran over possum the other night. He was strolling across the off ramp at the same time I was flying off the freeway. It was four-thirty in the morning. We were both tired and probably not paying as much as attention as we would have at some other time of the day. Our eyes met for just a moment, the one that passed a fraction of a second before he went “thump, kerplunk” under the car. He turned his little head on his droopy shoulders and just gave me a look of indifference. He kept walking at the same even, slow pace as he had been doing since beginning his trip across the expanse of asphalt that he would meet his death on. Or at least it looked that way to me, since he didn’t speed up and try to run like you would think a being in danger would.
I got the feeling he wanted to go. Not to the other side of the road, but to the other side. His eyes were dark, even in the bright headlights, which you would think would cause them to at least shine a little. Not so. It struck me that this little possum’s soul was surely gone, or nearly gone. His will certainly was.
Maybe he wanted to go so he could be reincarnated into a butterfly. He probably saw lots of butterfly’s – fluttering around, camping out on leaves. He provably liked their colors. He was probably tired of brown. It’s not as though possums can accessorize to the seasons.
I exited that same off ramp at four-thirty in the morning just twenty four hours later. I slowed down this time, and muted my radio for a moment of silence. His carcass was on the side of the ramp, face down, His legs were pinned under him. I hoped his soul was already in that butterfly. I hoped he was already in his happy place, flying around, hanging out on leaves. Changing colors. Living the life he wanted.