Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Luck and Second Chances

I’m a lucky guy. I really am. In the last week I’ve had my Worker’s Comp case shot down, had my oldest daughter wreck my car and got into an email battle with my ex that became so heated that her current dude threatened to come over to my house and assault me.
So why do I consider myself lucky? Me, the dude that deals with chronic pain on a daily basis, needs a cane to get around and lives paycheck to paycheck, never sure exactly when my next writing assignment is coming or what that royalty statement is going to say.
This morning put everything into very clear perspective. I had just cleaned the house and myself, clearing out all of the negative energy that’s built up over the last few months, and believe me it was substantial. A moment of brief meditation and I was good to go. I felt open and positive for the first time in… I can’t remember when.
Then I heard it. Coming down the highway near my home was a siren. It was coming at high speed too. This happens from time to time. We’re out in the county but we live close to one of the primary corridors out to the true boonies.
If anything happens in this part of the world, the cops have to come by here to get to there. We don’t live on the main road itself, but on a road off of it, only about fifty or so yards so if a siren is screaming, we hear it.
I didn’t think much of it. Until less than five minutes later when I saw the helicopter flying in the same direction. I couldn’t tell from my viewpoint and the trees whether it was Pegasus or LifeFlight but it didn’t really matter. It all meant the same. Someone was gravely injured.
A lifetime ago I worked volunteer fire and rescue. Four of the best years of my life. I saw some of the most horrifying, painful things you can possibly imagine.
I remember vividly running my first code, walking in on a person who was clinically dead and desperately performing CPR. I remember doing a final walkthrough after loading two victims of a car that had flipped over and the cold chill that ran through me when I saw crayons and a coloring book.
The relief that followed when they told me that their child was at home, and not beneath the car, only tempered it.
I remember helping to extricate the body of a truck driver who had fallen asleep behind the wheel and drove into a ravine. I remember clearly the wedding band on his finger. Needing his name, I pulled his wallet to look at his license. I can still remember the pictures of his kids.
Once I was driving home from a small, local grocery store when my pager went off. A car exiting the interstate had been broadsided by a state truck doing highway construction. I was less than a mile away.
When I got there a road crew from a local correctional facility was working nearby. The girl in the car was in VERY bad condition. I approached the closest guard and told him that I needed help. He responded that he had prisoners to watch.
Fuck that.
I pointed to the closest inmates. Two I assigned to traffic control, one became a runner back and forth to my still running car for supplies and my jump bag and another I pulled into the car with me to help with the girl.
The guards did a great job watching.
After a lifetime fire and rescue arrived and eventually so did a medevac helicopter. Several months later I saw the girl working in a store. She said that she was doing well and that while she was in the hospital the inmates had sent her a card. That made me happy.
I know that if I hadn’t been there she may very well have not survived that day. But I also had the opportunity to make a difference in several other people’s lives. People that otherwise would have gone back to jail that day and continued counting down the days until they got out.
Every day we have chances to make a difference, sometimes big and sometimes small. Don’t pass them up. Life is too damn short. You never know what’s going to happen. That helicopter flying past my house today is proof positive of that.

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