Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Cyclist

There are moments in life that abruptly, albeit, cruelly, stop us in our tracks and remind us once again how incredibly precious life is. Last night was one such moment for my son, Stephen, and me. We were on our way to dinner and a movie. While on route we witnessed a cyclist who had been hit by a car, thrown across the street into another car, only to land crumbled up on the sidewalk. My entire body froze as we saw this young cyclist lying lifeless, face down on the street, bloodied and mangled. A crowd of well meaning folks immediately ran to his rescue and called 911. I parked my car ahead, grabbed my sons arm and began to weep for the young man. I started whispering, in an almost mantra fashion, “Please God, let him live. Please let him pull through this. God, please let him be alright.” The police and rescue vehicles descended on the scene and we were motioned to vacate the area.

Where do you go when you’ve just witnessed such a horrific event? I was nauseated and shaken inside. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I couldn’t get the picture of him lying so deeply wounded on the side of the street out of my head. Would he make it? Did he make it? How bad were his injuries? I checked the internet repeatedly for any updates on his status, but nothing was posted. Then, when I awoke this morning I read an article that said “Pasadena Cyclist Struck and Killed”. I wept silently for him. A man I did not know, but who had impacted my life dramatically in the past 24 hours?

Who was this man? The paper said he was in his 30’s and was out cycling with another friend. Did he have a girlfriend or wife? Was he a father with a young family who’ve now been left fatherless? Did he have a dad who awoke to Father’s Day with the pain of having lost his son? Did he have a mother whose heart is now shattered to pieces at the loss of her child? Who were his friends and what pain they must be feeling at this unexpected, tragic loss? Who was he? He awoke yesterday morning and set out on his day, not knowing it would be his final.

Unless one is completely void of feeling and perspective, it would behoove you, after witnessing such an event to not take a moment and be ever so thankful for the very breath you’re breathing. It’s in moments like this that we are once again reminded of how incredibly precious life is. Tomorrow is never promised to us.  The end of today is not promised either. The petty issues that seemed so grand yesterday become no longer relevant now. I found myself going through my day with a profound sense of thankfulness. I desired a sense of peace in my current relationships, no matter how fractured they were. I wanted to hug my family members a little tighter and longer today. I prayed for God’s continued love and absolute protection over my son and that he grants him a wonderfully long life.

I do not know the name of this gentleman whose life I saw ebb from him last night. Until then, our paths never crossed, yet crossed they did. Sometimes in death, a person can have a deeper impact on their fellowman. Clearly is such the case. As haunted and grieved as I feel by witnessing his death, I feel a sense of tribute to him as well. I know I’ll never drive down Del Mar Boulevard again without being reminded of how fleeting life is and to make every day, every moment count. We get so caught up on the day to day rut and responsibilities of our lives that we sometimes fail to realize that each day is a gift. I know I’ll awaken tomorrow and not want to take anything for granted. I’ll be more aware of my actions and how they may affect others. I’ll have a heart of deeper gratitude. I’ll start acting on the dreams and goals I’ve kept on the shelf far too long. I’ll have a renewed desire to live every day; I’m privileged to have as if it were the last.

My heart and prayers go out to this young man and his family. A man and family I’ve never met and most likely never will. I thank him for the invaluable life lesson he brought to me in the time of his passing. May God’s peace and love comfort his family and friends and may they too, like me, be moved to live a better life.