On 8 point bucks and Paris

It might have been my husband’s fault. Or mine. Either way, the cacophony of rushing out of the house early on a Saturday morning meant we had forgotten some needed hockey gear. I selfishly volunteered to go home to get it while he stayed at the ice rink with both kids. I was getting the better deal, 20 minutes of solitude.

Driving around a curve on the the serpentine road that leads to our house, a deer emerged from a yard and stepped into the path of my oncoming car. I slammed on the brakes. He didn’t budge, his heavily antlered head held high, seeming to consider me. I had time to count. He was an 8 pointer, as the boys I grew up with would say. I wondered how he had eked out an existence in the middle of a crowded city, how he had lived long enough to grow those enormous antlers despite stepping into the path of cars filled with people on their way to somewhere.

It didn’t seem possible.

He turned away from me and finished crossing the road and was gone.

I cried the rest of the way home.

In the hours after the terrorist attacks in Paris, I was glued to the unfolding coverage and aftermath. Survivors shared accounts, each more horrifying than the one before it. The experts gave insight and made educated guesses and the reporters dissected each new detail.

The morning after, driving to hockey, the four of us had been singing a song on the radio. The sound of our blended voices made my heart hurt. We are rule keepers. We wear our seat belts, pay our taxes, and worship our God. We don’t take stupid risks.

The risk lines keep getting moved. Reporting to work wasn’t dangerous, until we watched people in business suits and skirts jump from the burning World Trade Towers. Going out for a much anticipated Friday night dinner with friends wasn’t dangerous, until innocent Parisians were shot to death at their tables. The riskiest thing about the rock concert at the Bataclan should have been a spilled drink or the ringing ears that would follow concert goers out into that Paris night.

My 10 year old son walked into the room while I was watching the coverage. We try not to watch news around them, but I couldn’t stop. “I thought it was supposed to be a nice city,” he said. We are planning to take him and his sister to Paris next year. “I don’t know if I want to go,” he said.

I couldn’t explain that it’s complicated, that darkness can seep into anywhere, blotting out light. It can happen anytime, anywhere, to any of us. If my mother had said that to me at his age,  I would have gotten in bed and pulled the covers over my head. It all would have seemed horrifyingly pointless.

“Paris is beautiful and we can’t live scared,” is what I said. Then I turned off the TV. I believe what I told him, but I worry about our collective humanity, from the slaughter of the innocent in Paris, to the people on social media using it to provoke political fights while they are still counting the dead.

One of the few pieces of video from outside the Bataclan concert hall shows a young woman hanging from a second story window. That girl now knows what other victims of terror knew — the people in the Towers and on the planes and at far too many places on the planet — that in a moment of grotesquely distilled clarity, the only thing that matters is life.

They weren’t their job or the color of their skin or their political party or that upcoming vacation or the divorce they were going through — they weren’t even the next day.

They wanted to live. All the other things that consume the waking moments of our lives are just details and choices that cloud this profound reality.

At times like this, I feel there’s a black cloud threatening the future I want for my children. I despair.

And then around a curve in the road, I am reminded that all the calculating and rule keeping in the world guarantees exactly nothing.

Evil can take away life, but it can’t extinguish the truth — that much of our existence is a miracle, one I will never fully understand.

With his antlered crown blocking my way, he showed me what is easy to forget.

Against the odds, life finds a way.




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15 comments on “On 8 point bucks and Paris
  1. Nancy Jo McDaniel says:

    I always love your take on life…..this was no exception!!!! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!!!! XOXOXO

  2. Lisa says:

    Love….as always told truthfully and beautifully.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thank you, Rocky. Thank you for reading and thanks for watching the show. I could do farm talk all day, but then I’d make my colleagues crazy!

  3. Rocky Scott says:

    What a wonderful way of looking at life. great story Jaye. Love your stories on the air at times of you growing up on the farm. Plucking and cleaning those chickens made my wife and I LOL. I, in the past have hunted ducks for many years and also trapped when young. I can relate to the thrill of it all.

  4. Debbie says:

    There is no one that can say it better than you can. Thanks for giving us that glimmer of hope that helps us to put one foot in front of the other.

  5. Donna says:

    Very well said and quite poignant. I was always told as a child that we have to “trust God” and to “walk by faith and not by sight”. I hoped and prayed, wished and dreamed that this world would be as wonderful as my child like mind could imagine. Then the reality of abuse, fear, danger, and evil showed up and altered my view. But that still small voice just kept gnawing at me telling me to trust God….

    Now as an adult, having seen and experienced many atrocities, I can boldly, emphatically say “we can’t live scared” which is a paradoxical statement. You aren’t really able to live if you waste your life existing in fear.

  6. Jennifer F. says:

    Beautifully written and a wonderful reminder to all of us that love, life, and truth will remain even in the midst of evil. Fear can make you lose sight of the good that surrounds us, but when you count the number of people who came to help the hurt and the dying in those Paris streets, it eclipses the number who came to do evil.

  7. Kay Flowers says:

    Absolutely beautiful, J. You often express exactly what I feel and think. Thank you for getting it out of your head and heart and perfectly in print.

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  1. […] “Evil can take away life, but it can’t extinguish the truth — that much of our existence is a miracle, one I will never fully understand.” Jaye Watson on how she’s processed last week’s events in Paris. Read On 8 point bucks and Paris […]

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