biking yesterday i had the experience you learn about in first aid classes but rarely see. cruising around a final corner before the bike path meets up with city streets, i came upon an elder woman lying face down on the pavement. her arms stretched out in front of her.
it’s been years since i’ve taken one of these classes but i was able to breathe and calmly approach. i asked if she could her me. she could. i asked if i could help. she said i could. i asked her name and she said sue. so i sat with sue as we slowly worked on moving her legs in a position that she typically used to stand up. we took our time as her body was clearly a bit shook from the fall. a few people asked if we were ok and i said yes. i got the vibe she didn’t want a lot of attention, and it did feel like we were doing ok. nothing more to do but slowly help sue up, given her body didn’t seem to be any more injured than a bit of road rash.
a few minutes later another person came by in a truck asking if we needed help and i accepted. they seemed like the right person to help out, someone you’d feel safe around. sue and I had been on the pavement long enough it became clear some more help might be needed. they brought a towel from their truck and we got it under sue’s arms. they coached me a bit on how to lift sue, basically the first squat i’ve done in about 5 years, and with the highest stakes, holding sue in a front hug and lifting her to her feet.
another person on a bike came by and hung out just in case. didn’t ask, just stayed present about 10 ft away. not trying to add to anything unless we needed them. it was a really respectful move in hindsight. after we got sue to her feet we stood a while before moving. she held me tightly. after a few minutes, the other person and i took sue from both sides, her hands over our shoulders, and walked the 30ft to her car across the street. we had a couple of laughs about how she had “almost made it!”
the other person who stopped said they lived in the neighborhood and could drive sue’s car home. they said they could walk home from sue’s house, which was to be about a mile away. sue accepted, so we helped her into the passenger seat of her station wagon and sue and this super kind person whose name i never got were on their way.
as i biked a bit i couldn’t help thinking that sue was just out on her walk and then suddenly needed help. i thought about my fav grace dammann quote, “if i can, i must.” i thought about all the things sue has done, all the times she’s walked that path. i thought about how short and fragile this life is. i thought, today is for sue.
while i have aging parents, friends, and relatives, this was the first time i’ve needed to help another person in this way since my time working as a caregiver 10 or so years ago. this was real. a lesson to value each breath and step. a view into the kindness that’s possible between strangers. beyond everything, we were there for sue, and she accepting of us. today is for sue. hope to see you on the path again soon <3
today is for sue
everyday is for sue
no day is for sure
not even today
but today is for sue
because we’ll have a day too
when it’s challenging to walk on the path
with courage we try
it’s what we do
we will fall too