Friday, December 11, 2015

Just a normal day

So you know how it is. You're driving home when you see a car slammed into the median. Traffic is already starting to slow. As you creep closer you realize this only just happened and there are several other cars stopped, people trying to open the doors or break the window.

And you remember you have a crowbar handy.

So you pull over and run back, crowbar in hand, then hear the glass shattering just as you get to the car. You help open the doors and unbuckle the man in the front seat. He is clearly having a seizure. Vomit is fountaining up from his mouth. You help lean his seat back just a little and roll him into his side. You talk to him, even though you're not sure if he can hear you. You can smell vomit and feces and blood. The man helping on the other side has blood on his hands and you don't know if it's his from breaking the window or if the seizing man is bleeding somewhere.

Someone else has called 911. Someone else has pulled boxes to make a lane for emergency vehicles. Someone else is talking to the man's mother. Someone else hands you his wallet and you see his name, his military ID. You tell the person talking to 911 who the seizing man is and then you notice he isn't seizing anymore. You help put a rolled up t-shirt under his neck and support his head with your other hand. You tell him your name and tell him he's okay. Over and over again. He looks in your eyes and you see his confusion, you see him coming back to himself, you see his fear and shame and frustration. You see him flinch whenever someone moves too quickly. You tell him he's okay, even as it may be a lie.

You don't notice the pain in your back or the fluid on your hands.

You hear the sirens and look up. The lights are coming quickly, still half a mile away.

You stay there until the ambulance and fire truck and police cars come to a stop. Then you step aside and let them do their work.

You walk back to your car, feeling your hands shaking and the cool wetness of tears on your cheeks. Everyone else keeps milling around but they don't need you now.

So you get in your car and drive away. Back home you scrub your hands until they are raw and wipe down the steering wheel with disinfectant. You remind yourself that this man and his seizure, the vomit and feces and blood, are not the same as the vomit and feces and blood you had to clean up when your husband was dying. You remind yourself that you did the best you could in both cases. 

You think, "I should tell the people I love how much I love them." So you do.

And you get on with your day, because what else is there.

We don't know what will happen. We don't know if there will be kind strangers. We don't know if the next time the car might flip. We don't know.

Tell the people who may already know, or those who may not, how much you love them. We just don't know.

(c)2015 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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