Friday, March 17, 2006

It's not every day...

It’s not every day that one sees a dead body. Well, maybe if you’re a coroner or medical student. If you watch CSI regularly, you see ‘em a lot, too. But in real life…really not that often. Typically, just at funerals for most people.  That’s why when we saw a woman on the street dead, after getting hit by a car, it makes a pretty strong impression. It was a couple of days ago. Ivan and I were downtown Salt Lake, just got done looking at a lot to dig. We drive down North Temple and see a BUNCH of police lights. I figured it was a car that got pulled over and they found drugs. That’s the usual scene with lots of cops on the road in one spot. Anyway, Ivan wanted to drive by and take a peek. I was thinking that guns would be drawn, so I thought maybe we should pass. Ivan was driving, so down the few blocks we go. There on the street was the body along with a bag of groceries. You couldn’t see anything gory, just the body under the sheet and the feet sticking out.  It was just one of those reminders that life is pretty fragile. Here walking along with your groceries in hand. The next minute flattened on the road. You just never know. 


The news reports indicate that the car hit the woman in the inside lane no where near a crosswalk.  I’m a big fan of crosswalks, especially at night, and even more so on a 5 lane road. I feel bad for the victim and their family. I do wonder however, why she chose to cross there? The crosswalk wasn’t *that* far down the street. I feel even worse for the driver of the car that claimed that she didn’t see her at all. Sure, maybe the driver was exceeding the speed limit. I have no idea if that’s the case or not, but how many of  us DO exceed the speed limit every day? Pretty much 99% of us, right? So, there you are, driving along and BLAMO, you hit someone. How much is your life suddenly changed? I’m guessing quite a bit, whether you’re charged with vehicular homicide or not. Just the weight of the emotions with having snuffed someone’s light when you potentially could have avoided it happening. I’m sure you would question everything over and over again. You’d start seeing people in front of your car every time you start the engine. Anytime you step into your car, you’re reminded of that night.  Reminded that life is fragile and that you are driving a huge weapon of destruction every day.


So,  yeah, it’s not every day you see a dead body. It’s not every day that you get run over. It’s not every day that you kill someone either. Death touches people every day. Maybe this is your lucky day where you won’t be touched, but you just never know.


Bobber said...

40 yrs ago, I did hit someone, and altho she did not die, I am sure the injuries she incurred stayed with her all her life. The police judged that the accident was not my fault, but a willful action on her part ~ either as attempted suicide or an attempt to abort a child she was carrying.

Regardless, for 3 days while the police investigated the accident, I had no idea who was responsible (accept myself), whether the girl had lived or died, or if I would be going to jail. It was pure hell. And, it was, as you surmised, a life changing experience.

Without repeating what you have said, your comments about the possible ramifications are right on the money and something I have had to live with all my life since. It has changed the way I drive, my assumptions about personal responsibility, my insights into human nature, and my understandings of compassion and of awareness.

It was indeed a life changing experience, even as having seen a dead body for the first time was as well. It is odd, but somehow, you know that life has left them and that the animating spark within has been extinguished. Somehow it changes everything about them and at the same time our relationship to them as human beings. A chasm opens between us and them, and for us, at least, they cease to be human, just the remains of a human being.

K said...

I can relate Cat when I had to deal with my first dead body it was a real life changing experience. One minute my patient was sitting up talking to me the next she was "coding" and we couldn't get her back. Life is indeed fragile.