November 14, 2007


I had never seen a dead body before. Not like this.

I have been to a few funerals. I saw my grandfather's embalmed body when I was really young, and I was a pall-bearer for my grandmother when she died a few years ago.

But apart from neatly dressed friends and relatives laid to rest in caskets, I have little to no experience with the dead.

I guess I still don't.

But as I was driving home from work tonight, I met with some backed up traffic. Cars were where they shouldn't have been, stopped in the middle of the street, one askew with a huge piece of its windshield smashed in. Oncoming traffic was stopped, but my lane was moving slowly. There were no flashing lights, yet. To my left, a strip mall with a doctor's office and a donut shop. To my right, a retirement home. I crept by, rubber-necking like everyone else.

I saw a body lying behind the car with the smashed windshield, his white hair peaking out from underneath a blanket. They had covered him before any authorities had arrived. I told myself maybe he was cold.

A little farther down the road, a woman was fleeing her car shouting, with hope, "I know CPR."

When I got home, my mom asked me if I was alright. I told her I thought I just saw a dead body. I told her, "He was covered in a blanket, maybe he was cold." She was disturbed.

Later, I drove by the same spot, paint outlines marking the spot in the street where the accident had occurred. There were stains, and I thought I saw chalk outlines.

(In case you're wondering: Elderly man dies in Jenison.)

This, I think, is my big fear. I'm not afraid of dying, I don't know how to fear that yet and I probably don't have to. But I spend a lot of time on the road. I do lots of stupid things while I drive. I have an iPod. I eat sandwiches. I send text messages. I know that I've driven past that exact place hundreds of times, often without my eyes on the road. Could have just as easily been me behind the wheel.

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