Okay, so I’m posting a pretty big TRIGGER WARNING for this post, due to talk of death and dying.

If you’re still with me, prepare yourselves. Yesterday was … bracing, we shall say. I went to the park to do a bit of meditation and ended up watching a guy die right in front of me. Figured I wouldn’t bury the lede here because … well, if you didn’t heed the trigger warning above, thinking I might just be speaking in hyperbole, you can stop reading right now.

I had just finished up a fairly productive meditation session and decided to go for a bit of a walk to further contemplate when I heard what sounded like two very loud crashes. My instinct was to run toward what happened, which either means I’m incredibly stupid or I’m on the right career path. Maybe both? I dunno. As I was jogging, I hoped and prayed that everyone involved was alright, but instead saw the body of a man, splayed on the ground around 10 feet away from his destroyed vehicle. It did not look good. Two men – one was a former combat medic – and I tried to get him to respond, but his eyes were wide open, mouth agape, and blood was streaming from the back of his head. Long story short: he was likely dead on impact, and it just took his body a minute or two to catch up with what happened.

I went to check on the other people involved in the crash, seeing as the man was likely not going to survive. One was a woman just a few years older than I am who was in shock from both the accident and the knowledge that her vehicle had just taken the life of another person. The airbag caused most of her injuries, and other than her mental state, she seemed to be fine. The second woman was 23 years old, had a broken foot and some lacerations on her arms, and was terrified; her mom was on the phone with her, trying to keep her calm as she made her way to the accident. Shortly after I made sure that both of the women were okay – I mean, as okay as they could be without medical care – the cavalcade of ambulances and fire engines roared and sirened into the area, and I felt it was best to let them do their jobs. Granted, we couldn’t leave because the intersection was completely blocked off for about half an hour (before they realized, “hey, they’re at a park. Just let them drive on the grass?”), so it was all I could do to just watch the first responders follow protocol.

And think. About what had just happened.

A man – who had either just arrived or was just leaving the park, a beautifully serene place where I had legitimately just meditated – had just died, right in front of my eyes, and I was helpless to change that. Logically, I know there was nothing I could have done, even if I’d arrived more quickly. Emotionally, I was actually bothered by the fact that I wasn’t bothered more than anything else, and I took to helping the more emotionally fragile witnesses get themselves together or piece together what had happened. It wasn’t until I got on the phone with my dad that I cried. No, I bawled. I had been operating on adrenaline, and that adrenaline finally tapped out.

Honestly, I still haven’t processed everything and probably won’t for a little while. Knowing how my brain works, it will resurface at an incredibly inopportune time, like my date next week or when I’m trying to go to sleep before my med-surg final, but! Luckily, I’ve got therapy next week! Serendipity! But in all seriousness, tell people that you love them when you can. Live your life like it could end the next day (within reason, obvs). Help others. And please, for the love of whatever god you worship, drive safely.

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