Someone had passed out, and since I’d just been recertified in CPR, I was ready to help. I rushed to the small mound of grass located between the two grocery stores where I shop. The young man lay on his back with his arms at his sides, the numerous needle tracks on his arms plainly visible. A woman near him informed the crowd that he had a pulse and was breathing. She explained she was a nurse, and his slow breathing indicated he was dying. Someone called 911. People began to talk to him. An old woman sat next to him, held his hand, and urged him to stay alive. The nurse said he’d stopped breathing and no longer had a pulse. She moved next to him and began CPR. The rest of us stood watch by the man who was now clinically dead. Within five minutes, the fire department and ambulance arrived, and seven EMTs began working on him. By the time they left with him in the ambulance, he’d been dead for twenty minutes. None of the original bystanders left until he was in the ambulance. I doubt anyone revived him, and I believe those last minutes of this man’s life, splayed out between grocery stores, were his last. Regardless of the challenges of this man’s life, he had been at the grocery store and hadn’t expected to die that day. I take comfort knowing that when he passed away, caring people were saying kind things to him.
Most of us won’t receive a warning on the day we die. Some of us will die alone. I have a friend who was hit by a car, and another friend who hit a pedestrian with her car. No one died in either case, but someone just as easily could have. Whether I’m sick or well, I need to make every day count. I need to remember that I’m loved and make an effort be loving and kind to others. I want to embrace the inherent joy in each day. I owe it to the young drug addict who will never get the chance to do those things.