Thursday, 21 February 2013

Reality Check

As children we're generally oblivious to our own mortality but that wasn't the case for me. For some reason as a young'un I recall crying for hours (or maybe it was mere minutes and it felt much longer?) when I realised that I would die one day and then crying for even longer once it sunk in the same was true of anyone close to me. I have no idea what triggered this realisation but have always felt in some ways I got my crying down with.
Since distant memories of tearful days, I've never been particularly emotional but in more recent years have found myself more susceptible to cheesy films, often rather paradoxically feeling the old tear ducts welling during more uplifting scenes. I've also become a regular reader of Metro's “Good Deed Feed”, and have even taken to reading out-dated “feeds” (daily printed text messages thanking random folk for assisting people in distress - for carrying bags, giving up a seat, returning lost/forgotten goods...).
In the last few years the threat of death has been increasingly apparent after Old Dear was diagnosed with myeloma and a great Aunt passed several months back. As soon as the C word reared its ugly head, I increasingly discovered many of my friends had relatives and friends who'd survived or were undergoing treatment for different cancers.
Today, I experienced a whole new reality check. Walking to Leeds train station, I saw something in the distance blocking the road. As I got nearer I realised with horror it was a body with another figure hunched over it. I mentally prepared myself to help whoever it may be but before I was near enough, a small crowd had already formed. Before long more people from the offices opposite were running out to offer further assistance. It's not the first time, I've seen road accidents with pedestrians or cyclists lying helplessly on the cold concrete floor but today is something I can't shake.
As I walked past the clustered people, out of respect I tried to avoid staring or looking too closely. The final snatch I caught will, however, always stick in my head. The body on the ground was an unresponsive man of around the same age as my dad and over him stood an unsurprisingly distraught woman – presumably his wife. The final image I have of the scene is of the woman desperately crying out “Colin”, his face and the sizable puddle of blood flowing from beneath his head. Actually seeing the red of the blood somehow acted as an unwelcome reminder of our own fragility. I hope you're OK, Colin, whoever you may be. 

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