It is in the weird fucked up hours between midnight and the rising of the sun that some of my mind’s deepest thoughts come alive. More often than not, I tend to not share these grand illusions of epiphanies because usually it seems they only make sense to me.
This one however, amidst the love and hate of posts of refugees, discrimination, racism and political shenanigans, this one seemed worthy.
Monday, on my way home from wishing my rl mother a happy birthday, I stopped for a red light, half paying attention to the traffic around me, half listening to my son discuss the merits of particular weapon in his new xbox game and partially pondering logging into SL when I got home to see my family. As I looked across from me, it occurred to me to think to myself “what an idiot” as I watched a small sedan pull speedily in front of a tractor trailer.
And then, in a moment that surely only took milliseconds but seemed like eternity, I watched that small sedan slam on his brakes for the red light we were all sitting at and that same tractor trailer, not able to stop quite as quick with an unexpected vehicle in front of it, crush into the back of it. I watched the sedan lurch forward from the impact and the body eject through the windshield in an explosion of glass, arch into the air and land about ten feet and just to the left of the front of my car, much like a ragdoll a child had haphazardly thrown when they were done playing.
I am not a nurse, or doctor or first responder – I am just a mom – just a person- tired from work and ready to be home but some sense of…something… propelled me from my car, phone in hand, dialing 911 as I took the two steps to the young man laying on the ground. Even now, I couldn’t tell you what race or nationality he was. I couldn’t tell you anything about him – and none of it mattered – he was a HUMAN BEING – fighting for his life. As I talked to the 911 operator in the calmest voice I think I have ever used in my life, I gave my location, what I had seen, what I was looking at. “No I don’t know his age, No I don’t know any of his medical conditions, Yes there is a pulse – shallow and weak but there – no response to voice or light stimuli – Airway is open and unrestricted- No I have not attempted cpr without knowing of internal injuries – No his chest is not moving – I have no idea if there are other passengers….” I answered the questions like a robot as I described the lacerations to his face arms and chest, the odd angle of his right leg, the protruding bone from his ankle and somewhere in the back of my mind, I heard the sirens as they rolled up and the warmth of an officer’s hand as he gently pulled me away.
I turned then, looking into my car at the look on my son’s face – blank and wide eyed as he had watched and refused to turn around while I heard the gurney come out of the ambulance and the count to lift the body I knew in my heart was now empty of any soul. It wasn’t until some moments later, when the questions has been answered, the reports had been completed and I had been sent along my way, trying to hold myself together in front of my son that he asked me the first question. “Mom, why didn’t anyone else get out to help?”
I didn’t know how to answer him – I didn’t HAVE an answer to that. At what point, did we stop being human? At what point did people become afraid to care? When did we stop caring about the preciousness of human life? ALL of those people sitting in traffic – None of them could be bothered to leave their cars to see if anyone else was in the car with him? To check on the truck driver? Did they sit there and bitch about the inconvenience or were they scared to see up close what was happening – or maybe they were saying a prayer of thanks that it wasn’t them – or maybe- as we see far too often – they sat there because it “wasn’t their business”. It didn’t matter if anyone knew him or not, who he was, what color he was, what religion he practiced or what country he came from. He was someone’s son- he was a human being with value, with purpose and in the flash of an eye…. he was gone. He laid on the asphalt – conscious or not we’ll never know – we’ll never know if he was even aware there was anyone there or if he was already too gone to even know what happened – but in those last breaths – whether with me or the paramedics and officers that responded – he was not alone.
It took my husband to remind me of that last part. A hero of a man who has been in that situation more times than I would ever want to count, who when I finally logged into SL and blurted out what had happened, held me and comforted me while I struggled to deal with what is felt when you watch the loss of human life up close, reminded me that I had accomplished the most important thing… that whatever moment it was that young man passed between this world and whatever world he went to – he wasn’t alone.
My son asked me this morning, if the young man had made it through that wreck ok. As much as my heart had told me the night before he did not, I never had turned to see if they pulled the sheet over his face and in the most honest answer I could muster, I told him that I didn’t know for sure but would find out. When I called this morning, the local Police Department confirmed what my heart knew, he was gone by the time the paramedics got there. Multiple internal injuries too severe for him to hold on his own until help arrived. An aspiring medical student at our local “teaching hospital”, he was alone in his car heading to his residency shift. Alone in this town he had moved to only about 6 months prior only knowing the people he worked with. His family had been contacted and they were waiting for the arrival to identify and claim the body.
I sat in my car and cried as I hit the “end call” button. A bad decision with a tragic outcome took away a life with so much potential. In his hurry to help others, he had sacrificed himself in the worst of ways.
Love each other. It doesn’t matter what our backgrounds are – who our parents were, what mistakes we’ve made with our life or what struggles we fight and overcome – we are human – all of us – Fate doesn’t chose a religion or race or country to take a life. Cherish every single moment we have and make sure the ones around you know you have a heart. Be kind to each other – don’t be afraid to care – don’t be afraid to give a damn about another life – don’t be afraid to be human again.