Death Arrives at 9:36 pm  

HunterMoon7 53M
14 posts
5/15/2006 6:06 pm

Last Read:
6/1/2014 6:49 pm

Death Arrives at 9:36 pm

I think that it was Emily Dickenson who wrote something to the effect that, "I could not stop for Death, so he kindly stopped for me ..."

This past Thursday, May the 11th, as I drove from my work site in North Carolina, to my current home in Georgia, I had to pull off the road to fill up with gas ... a necessary chore.

It was a nice night, and the exit I chose was close to a college town (I'll keep the exact location undisclosed out of respect). Young men were on their motorcycles, zipping in and out of the local cafe near the gas station. Excitement was in the air ... graduation was the following week, and the young dewey-eyed coeds, were all looking massively impressed by this parade of 30 or so puffed-up young men ... the bigger the peal out, or the louder the pipes, ... obviously related to the size of their dicks ... or something. The girls were actually looking suitably impressed (amazingly enough) and it made me long for my biking days.

I had just finished pumping the gas, and had glanced down at my receipt to verify that I could read the amount later. My eyes paused on the date and time stamp ... 9:36 pm. As I read those innocent characters, a string of about five bikes, pealed out of the cafe, and turned left, back across the highway overpass. They ran the yellow light. At the same time, a motorist came off the highway ... doing about 85 or 90 miles an hour ... no kidding. The resulting impact sounded like the Army had just shown up with a howitzer shell. My head jerked up from the receipt like it was on steel springs. I had time to register the scene and carnage from a vantage point about fifty yards away.

I had about three or four seconds to see the scene, before the gas pump I was standing beside sounded like it had suddenly been hit by a cannon-ball. It made me jump! I had to step back out of the driver's door opening of my truck, to close the door and see what had hit the pump. What I saw, caused my knees to go weak, and for me to suddenly sit down on my heels.

Wedged into the angle between the curb that surrounds the gass pumps and the concrete paving slab, was the decapitated head of the motorcyclist. The thing that shocked me the most, was that the young man's head was still alive, when his body was already dead. He was not unconscious, and from where I crouched, I could see into his eyes, about four feet away from mine. He looked confused ... like what happened to me, and why am I laying here on the ground by this curb? No sound came out of his mouth, of course, but his lips worked, as though he was trying to say something ... but nothing that I could lip read.

Surprisingly, there was not a lot of blood. I learned in the military, that occasionally in combat, if an arm or something is severed, the veins and arteries pull back into the muscle, and that muscle kind of acts as a crude tourniquet. Maybe something like that happened here. I don't know, I'm not a doctor or anything.

Gradually, an understanding of what happened, seemed to dawn in this young man's eyes ... to be quickly replaced by a horror of what was happening to him. My soul was flooded with compassion ... but my tongue felt thick ... I who am normally such a talker ... felt like I had no adequate words to say. I simply knew that I would not turn away and let this young man die alone. I finally reached somewhere down into my heart, and came back up with one spoken word. I looked into his eyes and said, "Peace".

Why I couldn't find a prayer, or an eloquent saying ... I don't know. But on reflection, I think "Peace" was maybe the single word that that young man needed to hear. I kept my eyes locked on his, and waited with him through two and a half minutes, that seemed like an eternity, until his eyes finally fixed, and death claimed him.

That's when the tears came.

When I was younger, I worked at a photographer for the county coroner ... so dead bodies were nothing I hadn't seen. Also, during the military years, I saw injured and dead brothers in arms. Nothing, that I haven't had to deal with. I think it was the sudden and unexpected nature of this random senseless tragedy ... a fucking Thursday evening while pumping gas ... how much more routine and normal can it be ... then to suddenly share the final essential moments of another human being.

It is swift, sudden, unrelenting, and very humbling. Yet, strangely enough, I don't dwell on the ending of the young man's life ... I think about his classmates, who will graduate this week with an empty chair in the middle of the caps and gowns ... and I think of his mother, who will face her first Mother's Day as a bereaved parent, and for whom the holiday will forever be a painful anniversary and memory.

We grieve for the dead ... but it is the living, I think, who suffer the most.

Depending on your faith ... consider lighting a candle ... meditating ... or perhaps spending some quiet time with the ones you love. Life is more fleeting than any of us would care to think ... and none of us know when it will one day become 9:36 pm for us.

rm_mm0206 70F
7767 posts
5/26/2006 8:56 pm

what can you say .....I believe sometiimes men can take death so much better than women....I am stunned that you can even write about it... how unbelieveably gruesome for you to have witnessed and been exposed to that young boy's death.
And you are correct when you say that it is the ones left living that suffer when someone dies....especially a tragic death...
those that witness it, the family and friends that are left to try and come to terms with the possible pain and suffering and the unacceptable loss.
My prayers for that young man and his family and for you.


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