Crossing the street to the bakery, the woman was slowly walking, talking on a cell phone and carrying a white plastic bag. Nothing really out of the ordinary. Don't even know why I noticed her at all.
With baked goods secured, I headed back over to work.
"Did you see that woman?" came an excited yell.
"The woman that's lying on the street." She gestured to the corner. Turning right around and hurrying to the corner, I saw exactly that. A young woman sprawled out, flat on her back. Because in this part of town one can see people in all states of inebriation, this is nothing out of the ordinary.
I ran over. My co-worker joined me. "Mam? Mam? Are you alright?" Nothing. Clearly, this woman was in deep trouble. Gray, ashen, lips a bit purple. She had "let go."
We kneeled over her, talking to her, repeating the same words.
Miraculously, an off duty EMT stops and began to access the situation.
He said little, but his somber expression said quite a lot.
Then the flashing lights, uniforms quickly exiting with equipment-the people who are going to fix everything. People we see as heroes and even angels of mercy.
Wires are attached. The body jerks to the electric kiss of life.
My companion- "See? She's movin." I look at him and whisper.
Two people talk to us. Disbelief. "He was just talking to her."The woman pointed to her tall companion who stood motionless and silent. Moments ago, they had agree to pick her up.
I couldn't watch anymore. We are all helpless, afraid. We babble, as if words can help.
I squeezed my car between the vehicles and headed home. A simple act I was very grateful for. Stunned, still reeling from the truth that this woman only moments ago was alive. She who began just an ordinary day; who had plans with friends for the evening. All that changed. Gone.
In the silent ride home, I said a prayer for her and wept.
Donne's words were not solace, but truth:
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee."