November 19, 2014

1610991_10153395395846026_2327253539468547740_n.pngNovember 15 was World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

I am surprised to find a remembrance day set aside for such an event so close to a date when I experienced the tragedy  of a car accident.

Late on November 19, 2014 my husband and I were driving to our new home in North Lawndale when we came upon a single car accident. While we had experienced car accidents before, this one was different. This was the first time we were there to witness someone trapped in a burning vehicle and saw them pass away.

I wrote the words below two years ago. It was my attempt to process what had happened. I was too raw to publish it back then, but today it isn’t as hard. But I must admit, the memory lingers every time we pass by the scene.

I cried today. With four strangers.

We were driving home when we came upon a car on fire. A man was trapped inside. We joined three men and two women who were trying to figure out what to do.

I cried today. And now I’m numb.

I tried to talk to him, letting him know we were there. I told him that he was going to be okay. That we were there to help. I knew that we needed the fire department and their powerful tools. Yet, I wished for someone to have super strength equivalent to the jaws of life.

I cried today. I saw someone die.

A cop came. He told us to get back. “I CAN’T” I yelled. “It’s a human-being stuck.” Another officer brought a fire extinguisher. While they tried to douse the flames, we pulled back. We huddled together. Not because of the 18 degree temperature. The warmth of the fire kept us comfortable. It was because we knew something horrible was happening and we were helpless.

I cried today. And held strangers in my arms.

I think it was at that point, when we saw that the flames kept growing. It was at that point, I think, that he passed. I didn’t see the life leave him, yet I knew there was a moment when I couldn’t easily make out a person in the car. It was then that I knew.

An infant’s car seat was in the back. No child was in it, but it was there. He was a father.

We cried today. And held each other.

We said “God bless.” We said little things to each other like “we did all we could.” “The fire department took too long.” “He knew someone was there.” “We tried.”

The police officers didn’t seem fazed. I guess they are use to death. Perhaps, someday, I will be too.

I sobbed today. And I think I may tomorrow.

 

A reached out to a dear friend who took a moment to listen. She told me that I would probably grapple with the memories for days and weeks, even months. And she was right. Even to this day we think about the accident each time we drive by that exit.

Please wear your seatbelts. Don’t drive impaired. Don’t text and drive. Just don’t. Be alert, because in an instant, life could be gone.

My heart cries out in memory of those lost, and those whose lives have been broken.

What I know about guns.

Here is what I know and have come to learn about guns.

This is maybe a more raw, unpolished, but perhaps more honest view of my three years of living in Chicago.

I know that I hear gun shots several times a week from my home in North Lawndale. And I have learned that in the summer I will hear them more.

I know the feeling of shock and fear that rushes over you when a text or call comes in letting you know that a kid you love has been shot.

I know what a gunshot wound’s entrance and exit looks like on the back of a 16 year old’s head.

I know the look of insufficient care when the same 16 year old was discharged from the ED with dried blood still on his face and neck and with no painkillers, just a recommendation to grab some ibuprofen at Walgreens.

I know the shell-shocked and desperate look of PTSD in the eyes of a 18 year old boy who has lost several close friends due to gun violence.

I know that these kids don’t know it isn’t normal for them to lose friends to gun violence.

I know there is something really wrong when kids have been to dozens more funerals than weddings.

I know 1803 people in Chicago have been shot this year-to-date, with no slow down in sight.

I know that guns have been used to murder 266 people in Chicago so far.

I know guns have destroyed the lives of many more.

I know what a roadside memorial for a young girl killed by a stray bullet looks like when it is covered in cards, streamers, and balloons on what would have been her birthday.

I know that guns are the common factor in these shootings and death.

I also know that there are other factors.

I know we can’t control everything.

But I know society can do better to control the weapons used in these acts of violence.

I know gun violence. I live in its smoldering wreckage every day.

And I know I want it to stop.

#disarmhate

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