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Do I Know You?
No…no, I don’t believe we’ve met.
Maybe I’ve seen you around school or around town, but until this moment I’ve never paid much attention to you.
Yes it’s possible…likely even…that I’ve passed you in the hall – maybe I saw you and thought you might make a good friend, or that you were probably a jerk.
Maybe I thought the shirt you were wearing was nice – maybe it’s the same one you’re wearing now.
Maybe I passed you going down the road and admired this same car, or hollered at you through my windshield to slow down.
Maybe you hollered back, flipped me off, or wondered why I had so many antennas on my truck. Or perhaps I was in my other truck, with red lights flashing and siren blaring, watching you nervously and hoping you wouldn’t swerve off the road when you saw me coming up from behind.
It’s such a shame that we have to meet here, now, like this…when this car is just a twisted mass of steel that’s keeping me from reaching you.
I introduce myself and you respond with a deep, ragged breath.
Your passenger must be a close friend. I want to ask him about you, but he is dead.
I struggle to pull his body off of yours. As I help you take your last breaths I feel the warm blood running down your face and the pieces of windshield in your skin.
It will be heartbreaking in a few minutes, but now you’re just a manikin that I’ve practiced on a thousand times.
As I lift you out through the broken window I lay your head on my chest trying to keep it still.
Blood and vomit soak through my shirt and stain my skin.
I bet you’ve never let a stranger cut your clothes off before, but you don’t seem to mind now.
You gag on the laryngoscope blade as the tube goes in, and blood pours out.
I look into your eyes as I help load you into the chopper, wondering if I’ll ever see you again.
You coded before you made it to the hospital.
So now I’m sitting here staring at your picture in the newspaper, and I’m wondering what you were really like.
Those eyes…the same ones I looked into that day…only full of life and ambition.
Last time I wrote about your eyes I wrote, “fixed and dilated.”
What did you want to be?
Who were your idols?
What were you listening to on the radio?
What was the last thing you thought about?
What else could I have done for you?
Will I get sick from your blood that I washed out of my cuts?
These questions and a thousand others will haunt me for months, maybe even years.
I’m sorry…I’m sorry I couldn’t do more, that I didn’t get the chance to know you, sorry for your family, and that you’ll never walk across the stage to get your diploma, go to college, or start a family.
Even though it seemed like hours, I only knew you for a few minutes.
Yeah, it’s too bad we had to meet like this, and that we couldn’t spend more time getting to know one another…but I promise I’ll never forget you.
(He was 16 when he died, about 4 years younger than me. We went to the same high school, and he would’ve been an 8th grader or freshman my senior year.)
By Jody Marks, NREMT-Paramedic
Last Updated:05/25/05 13:27
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