Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Butterfly

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There's an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You're beautiful for as long as you live.

-       from Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry by Stephen Dunn

I noticed the butterflies first as I got out of the car.  It is August.  It is that time of year. Two butterflies, a swallowtail then a monarch, both on this roadside bush. Then mooing with the smell of cows and gasoline.  In times like this your senses are heightened and everything is perceived.

I stopped to help at a roadside accident yesterday.

My youngest and I were headed to a concert up north.  It's her favorite boy band.  We hadn’t really planned the day out.  She had woken up late and found me outside gardening.  Just me and my best helpers, the dogs. I like to work solo anyway.  I have neglected the garden for about a month and it showed. Weeds are always easier to pull when they are a foot high.  My daughter was tearful that we hadn’t gotten tickets although she said I had promised her months ago.  Thank goodness there were still some left.  Just the cheap seats and just the way I like it. One must always keep promises to children.

We left in plenty of time although that didn’t stop me from my usual speeding on this particular road.  It’s somewhat rural as you get farther from the city into Pennsylvania.  The state police seem to ignore this stretch of highway and everyone knows it.

I travelled as usual.  My iPod plugged in and singing my awful collection of 70s, 80’s and 90’s music. My daughter belted into her iPod and seatbelt too.

He came up on my right.  Not enough time for me to spot him on the right rear view mirror given the loud Suzuki warning.  Since I was going 75MPH he must have been going at least 100-110.  I can’t calculate relative velocity that quickly in my head but it was fast. Very fast. I don’t usually take notice but the white gas tank was in contrast to his bright red jacket.

I didn’t think about it for the next 5 seconds of travel time until I saw that motorcycle in two pieces by the right guardrail. 

I know CPR.  I also know ACLS.  I never bothered to learn ATLS since I don’t work in ERs and it’s only if you have equipment of that sort anyway.  

 I stopped.  Me and a guy hauling a trailer full of cattle.

At first it was hard to see him in the brush but his mangled body was there.  His head was at a funny angle to the body and his right arm turned unnaturally also. His helmet was still in place as if that really mattered now.

Silence.  Except for the butterflies, the cows mooing and the whirl of the traffic flow still going 75 MPH.

We tried until the armada of emergency people came. Just me and the cattle guy.

Despite efforts, nature reclaimed it’s own.

And this one was just a butterfly of 19.

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