This morning, as I made my daily commute to the office, I noticed traffic slowing down and starting to back up. I was a little miffed; I was going to be late, again. I have no control over traffic, so I shouldn’t let this bother me. I try not to, but being late bothers me. In an effort to take my mind off the delay I plug in my phone and select an upbeat song to brighten my mood. I sang out loud and danced in my car as other drivers looked on with what can only be described as bemusement.
Twenty minutes creeps by much the way the traffic creeps southbound on Dixie Road. As we near the intersection of Derry Road I see signs of trouble. Myriad emergency service vehicles and the very recognizable yellow police tape cordon off the eastbound lanes of Derry Road. This must be a bad one, I think to myself. I stopped being miffed and said a little prayer for all those involve. There is no more dancing today.
Traffic moves slowly, passing only a few feet at a time. No one is permitted to pass through the eastbound lanes and traffic is diverted north onto Dixie. I see frustrated faces drive past me, away from the scene. Don’t they understand? They don’t cordon off accident scenes for fender-benders. This must be really bad.
Traffic begins to move and I see two police officers directing traffic. Drivers rubber-neck to see if they can see anything. Why would you WANT to see anything? I’m close to the intersection now, just three more cars. I hope that I can get through, I don’t want see what’s on the other side of that fire truck. The officer stops the southbound traffic to let the intersection clear; it’s only a few seconds but it’s long enough. I see it. That very familiar and identifiable yellow tarp, held in place by sandbags so that it doesn’t blow away and reveal what lies beneath. The yellow tarp flutters in the wind. What is seen cannot be unseen.
It isn’t until much later in the day that I learn a few details. The news tells me it was a male cyclist, hit by a transport truck; he was VSA. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
Once again the traffic moves, the officer waiving drivers through the intersection. I want to close my eyes and look away, but I can’t, I have to drive. I look straight ahead, but it’s there in my peripheral vision; that yellow tarp shining like a beacon on this bright and chilly April morning. Today is Holy Thursday on the Christian calendar.
I do not know who it was that lay beneath that tarp, but I know they lay there alone on the cold asphalt. This notion fills me with profound sadness. That poor soul left this world under terrible circumstances; they were likely terrified, and they were alone. They did not get to say good-bye to their loved ones. I say a little prayer for them.
My thoughts turn to the first responders. How do they do this every day? How do they cope with so much sadness? How do they start their day with death, and then go home and smile for their families? I saw a yellow tarp and I cried for someone I don’t even know. They do this every day, week in, week out, all year long. It must weigh so heavy on their hearts. I cannot begin to imagine what they go through on a daily basis; but I am so grateful they have chosen a life of service. Without these brave women and men we would be so lost.
I want to hug them all and tell them how much I appreciate what they do every day. We should all be grateful, to them, and their families. I think of them often. I was raised in a military family, but I never thought about the bad things that could happen. I was a child, I didn’t understand what the bad things were. I work for an EMS provider now. I’m not on the front line; I am not brave like them. I can’t be a hero; but they are mine.
Would you do something for me? The next time the opportunity presents itself, thank them. Wave at them, give them a smile. Teach your children to respect and appreciate them. Pray that you are blessed to never need them, but rest easy knowing that they will be there if ever you do. Keep them in your prayers, always.
There are organizations out there, like Wounded Warriors, CanPraxis, Tema Conter Memorial Trust and Many to One, that help injured military and first responder personnel, whether those injuries be physical in nature or emotional – like PTSD. Organizations like The Boot Campaign Canada do their part to help provide funding for some of those organizations and others like them. You can help too. How? Be a Tough Mudder, donate Aeroplan miles, or get your boots on. These organizations do wonderful things; but they can’t do it alone. Call them, ask them how you can help. They will be grateful you did.