Sunday, October 11, 2009

One of the Worst Things I've Ever Done

Oct 11, late PM, 2009
I was going to edit this tonight, because it was overly influenced by emotion, and there are parts that do not parse or make sense because of that. But I couldn't yet. I will soon. If you happen to run across this before I do, please be gentle.

I guess I got some shit wrong. I got the main shit right.

Oct. 11, early AM, 2009
This blog has been dormant for months. I couldn't begin to say why. I thought it would pick back up again when my work life became more normal.

But I'm avoiding the subject.

Tonight, I did one of the worst things I've ever done. Maybe The Worst. I'm not sure. I haven't lived my whole life yet.

And yes. We're stream of consciousness tonight. And yes: I'm still avoiding the subject. And finally . . . it's not tonight. It's tomorrow morning.

Tonight was normal. I went to dinner with the parents-who-can't-abide-each-other and the Boy Who Got His Own Laptop Today. It was nice. I had cocktails. I had sashimi (unusual) and didn't take crap from the parents (also unusual).

And then we came home. And I tried to set up my son's new laptop (unsuccessful, due to NO DOCUMENTATION) and my new MacBook (semi-successful due to NO NEED FOR DOCUMENTATION) and the main thing was I got my son to bed and had a couple of nice conversations with my online friends. Nice, friendly, light conversations. As per usual. As per normal. How I love normal.

I'll cop to playing with my new MacBook a little late. And having one of those nice light online conversations online with my old high school friend. So, it came to pass that it was waaaaay late in the eve, or waaaaay early in the morn to be chatting. And we signed off and went to bed. Well, presumably. I went to get a glass of water.

And that's when I heard the car crash. Not on the street directly in front of my house. I could tell it was on the street in front of the street directly in front of my house. The busy street. The one upon which I've heard so many car crashes before.

And here's where I hate myself the first time: I waited. It was clearly a very hard crash. Just from the sound two rows of houses away, I could tell. That was one hell of a crash. It didn't wake anyone else in my household but the dog. But they are all deep sleepers, and I was awake. I knew from the sound the crash was serious. But, I changed my shoes, got my sweater, found my phone, and then walked out into the fray to make sure someone had called the fucking cops.

Why was I surprised to hear the screams?

As it happened, no one had called the fucking cops. Because the two or three rational witnesses had pulled out the most-mangled bodies and started CP FUCKING R. Which they performed for well over an hour. And which I know, because I fucking watched. So that their wives wouldn't have to.

And that was the horror thing. You'd think the worst is watching someone die. You'd be wrong. Somehow, I, along with some other women I've never seen or heard of before, but who are evidently my very, very awesome neighbors, took charge of the wives who had witnessed their husbands get creamed in their car. Oh, and their mom was on the fucking car-crash-victim list too. The mom they had come to visit.

So, these desperate women, who cannot help but see their husbands prone on the sidewalk, receiving the most critical of care, are alone in the world but for me and a couple of other strange women who do not speak their language. Korean, as it turns out.

At this point, I know for sure emergency teams are on the way. But, it has been more than ten fucking minutes, and how the hell can they take so much goddamn time when the BODIES in question are so clearly fragile. They need more than these fantastic, courageous amateurs who are so willing to stick it out to the end. Or farther.

That's what I ignore. I walk past that drama. I don't want to see it, because I know it's not . . . I just . . . I know. It's bad.

I realize my story has become a little confused, but it's only because this really happened only a couple of hours ago.

I walk over to the two women -- the wives, I find out later, of the men on the ground receiving the endless CPR. And the daughters -- I find out later -- of the grandma they came to visit, and whom I never saw.

I go there because these women are screaming and hysterical. That's all anyone can hear. The screaming of these two women who only know their life-support system just crashed into oblivion. There are other women trying to calm these wives down, but they can't. The Two Wives speak only Korean, and no one conscious at the scene knows that language.

The Two Wives are truly hysterical, and clearly trying to get near to the men they rely on, but the other comforters and I understand that allowing them to do so would be a horrific mistake. We almost literally wrestle the hysterical Two Wives across the street, and down into a sitting/reclining position. This process is so hard. All I want to do is take away their grief. Make it go away. Make them stop screaming and struggling and compulsively looking at their husbands receiving the most dire of treatment. I can't take it all away. I rub their backs, and physically move them toward each other, encouraging them to hold an hug each other, all the while murmuring, "You must stay here and let the professionals do their jobs, there's nothing you can help with over there, they're in good hands, hug each other, you need to be here for each other now."

And they have no fucking clue what I'm saying because they only speak Korean. And the cops have no Korean translators available and can only keep saying, in the weirdest gentle way, "Keep these ladies calm, or we will have to cuff them and put them in the back of the car." I show these hysterical women some sort of sign for handcuffs and try to demonstrate arrest, but they don't get it. And then I wonder what the hell about it would be so horrible for them. They have clearly gone to the worst place they can go. It tears my heart fucking open to see them sprawled on the driveway begging for something I don't truly understand because it's in Korean, but I think very well might mean something like "Make this not be true."

So, now it's been an hour, two hours, who knows? It's been a long fucking time, and this is what I've noticed: The ambulances have left without sirens. The cops have been cordoning off a huge piece of the neighborhood with crime scene tape. I realize I didn't quite see what ambulances left with whom, because I was so busy trying to be the shield in between the Korean ladies and whatever was happening to their loved ones. But . . . none of the emergency crew is moving with urgency. And I don't see the victims on the sidewalk anymore. The Korean ladies are calming down sooooo slightly. But they are noticing their relatives aren't in sight any more too.

A cop walks up to another cop near me and says, "Wanna tell them they're at Scripps?" I hear this, and think, "Oh! I will tell these poor ladies their husbands are at Scripps and they will know where to go, and all will be fine." So . . . I tell the young boy who has been translating as best he can to let the Korean ladies know they should go to Scripps, and he does. The younger, more hysterical lady looks at me and in desperation asks, "All right?" I don't know the answer to the question, but I think if the authorities are willing to send the relatives to a particular facility, it must be not so bad. So, I say, "I hope." And smile.

Everyone seems calmer now, and I witnessed nothing, so I should get out of the way. But I want to make sure I'm not needed anymore and so I explain to a cop who I am and how I came upon the scene. He has no problem dismissing me back to my home. But not before he gestures to the Korean ladies and says to his partner: "Should we tell them now?" His partner looks down and says, "No. Not until the social workers come." And I know I have just reassured a woman I don't know that her dead husband is alive. But I walk back home.