Tuesday, November 11, 2008

out, out damned spot

so i'm standing on the corner of state and mission having just run up to the mission from la cumbre plaza and right before my eyes a woman steps off the curb from next to me and is decimated by a car rushing by to beat the red light.
she is thrown 50 feet from me and the feeling of watching her fly through the air is like nothing i've ever felt in my life.
you know how people say: "it was like i was watching a movie?" well, that is what it was exactly like. she flew through the air and fell to the asphalt and cracked her head open.
i rushed over to help her, sweat pouring off of me, not only from the exhausting run but from the utter freakiness of the situation.
how do you help someone who is obviously beyond help? she lay on the ground, legs askew, her head profusely bleeding: bright red liquid all around her.
at least i had the presence of mind to hold her hand, say a prayer for her and call 911...all in the same split second it seemed. funny, though i am catholic, i could only think of a few phrases of the Jewish Book of the Dead which was written to be used as a guide for both the living and the dead. then i said a hail mary, people all around me: no one doing anything to comfort this woman who clung onto life long enough to say thanks to me. and then she was gone. i have never seen anyone die. i promise you that when and if you do, you will never forget it. it is as if the life force is sucked out of a person from the inside out. the eyes go blank, the body goes limp. there is no doubt that death has arrived and being so close to this woman i could actually smell her die as i think i breathed in her last breath. fucking scary...more so now as i write this than at the time.
many of you know that i lost my parents when i was very young. what you don't know is that they lost their lives in a similar manner: thrown from their car in a devastating car accident. their bodies likewise on view to a number of people who did nothing to comfort them. they died on the street, in public, no one around who cared enough to even pull my mother's skirt down. even now thinking about that one small fact makes me want to beat someone to a bloody pulp. but, at least they had each other to cling on to and when the paramedics arrived they had to pry their hands apart. i like that. it makes me smile: 2 people so in love until the very end, innit?
yeah, i told myself, once the uncs told me about this 5 years ago, that i would never let this happen to another human being if i could help it.
but did i think that i would/could actually hold it together enough to actually help someone in this way? no. not in million years.
it was a small kindness, i know this. it was an unconscious act, one guided by necessity and the enormity of the event more than by unbridled humanity, i think.
it may sound as if i am bragging and in a way i am. but not for me. it's because i was invested with the highest moral and social ideals...by the uncs: uncle michael.
so yeah this whole thing is morbid i guess. maybe even self-serving and yet it is humbling: i had the balls and the presence of mind to act: i was not an observer, i was a participant.
it is real. it happened to me and, though i will never forget it, i survived.
peace,
tyler

15 comments:

Nico said...

What a scary and horrible experience. I am sorry you had to go through this. You did everything you possibly could to help and comfort her. Very brave and kind of you..

Jérem' said...

hi cutie! I can easily understand what you've been through. It happened to me too, to see a man die this way, right before my eyes. It's quite shocking, and awful

Tim in Italy said...

That's a remarkable and terrifying story. That you could keep your head and have the presence of mind to work your way through the carnage to comfort her is truly heroic. I don't know if I could have done it. And I suppose that's why most people do nothing in these situations. They can't work their way through the violence exhibited in this type of accident. I suppose people sit through a film like Blackhawk Down and think about how realistic it is, but it doesn't even scratch the surface.

I wondering what the driver was doing through all of this. That you have taken a life in an attempt to shave a minute or two off your morning commute must have been inconceivable.

tyler said...

tims:
wow: you used the H word which i really don;t feel applies here. i just did what i felt i needed to do what with my background.
the driver? who knows. i thnk he stopped but i can;t say for sure.
i would imagine the fates have gathered around him and plucked his eyes out, heh?
thanks as always for your kindness.
peace,
tyler

j: it is a bad experience, non?
something i will never forget.
peace,t.

tyler said...

nico:
the velvet underground, heh?
thanks for your commnets. i can;t seem to get that look of death out of my mind.
peace,
t.

Nico said...

Thank you for responding.. I've been reading your blog - and liking it - just never commented. I am sure that image will stay with you for a while.

I had a similar experience, although not so violent.. Once an old man knocked on our office door and strongly insisted that I let him in. He didn't look too well so I finally agreed.. but when I turned to get him a chair he just fell down to the floor, dying. It turned out that he'd just left his home across the street where his children were taking care of him. I don't know what he was running from.. maybe he could sense death approaching. He was gone withing minutes. I had never seen anyone die before and the whole experience, particularly his attempted escape, made me really sad.

But death is a part of life.. The best we can do is to be there for the dying person and assist them in any way we can.

dit said...

ugh, you poor thing to have to witness this. a terrible shame that the lady was hit. It surprises me, as older people are usually the ones who look twice, not the younger. Anyway, Tyler, I am so sorry for the lady and that you had to witness this. Take care kid.

Anonymous said...

A guy had a heart attack at a place I worked at as a teenager. You see people die in the movies or in a TV show and it's generally pretty tame compared to watching it happen for real. A violent heart attack was
absolutely horrifying in this instance vs. the hollywood version of one.

As for your actions and the others, you're a man of substance and you really did something that few seem to be able to do. I guess they're too afraid to get involved. I'd like to think I could do what you did.

I'm glad that person had a sole like you there to
comfort her.

WAT said...

GOOD GOD. This is a powerful story.

tyler said...

wat:
i till can't get her face out of my mind.
thanksfor the comment.
peace,
t.

Anonymous said...

So you doing ok Tyler? Just thinking about you tonight.

tyler said...

closet:
thanks for asking. i'm doing fine.
how about you?
t.

Gay Snowboarder said...

Wow, I cannot believe your blog. It was like I was reading it from a fiction novel or something. You're writings are very powerful. Have you ever considered being a writer? I am an English teacher and when I was reading your blog I couldn't help but think wow, this guy can write. Hit me back!

Peyton
http://gaysnowboarder.blogspot.com

Gay Snowboarder said...

Wow, you are a very powerful writer. I am an English teacher and you should think of being a writer. I can not believe how powerful your work is. You are one creative writer. When I was reading your blog I felt like I was reading a non-fiction book. Hit me back!

Peyton
http://gaysnowboarder.blogspot.com

tyler said...

hey peyton:
i've read all of your blog entries and damn if i cannot find a way to comment on them.
or maybe you do not want comments, heh?
anyway thanks for commenting ( have i used "comment" enough here?) but i get the feeling that you think that i am writing fiction but alas: it is all true. not the complete truth in that i have left things out to protect the guilty.
peace,
tyler