* The story I am about to tell is not for the faint of heart, but I need to tell it to get it out of my head.*
Long story short: On the walk to work this morning a man jumped off a building and landed right in front of me.
Short story long: When my alarm clock went off at 6:45 a.m. this morning, I grumpily got out of bed, annoyed that I had to go into the office so early to set up and minute a meeting. The first part of the meeting was something I worked hard to get together and it was about to fall apart yesterday. I made my boss pull the “I’m the Boss” card and get things back in line, but I still wasn’t happy about having to be in early to get things ready (that I couldn’t finish last night). Shawn left early with me and once we split ways and I left him at his office, I went outside to walk to mine, following the traffic lights (rather than waste time by waiting at them, I just go with the green and get to work in a zig-zag fashion.)
It was supposed to rain all day today, but at 8am it was still sunny, if a little cool. I have been feeling rather down and lost in my head these days, so I had my comfort album (The Other Size of Zero by Elizabeth and the Catapult) on repeat as I walked to work, enjoying the brisk air as I breathed deeply on my walk into the office.
The path I took this morning, passes an entrance to underground parking and a loading dock. I always slow down there and make sure I’m awake enough to notice the cars that DO NOT STOP zoom around the corner and into the entrance. There were no cars this morning though and just one truck waiting for the doors to open for the loading bay. Well, as I was slowing down, I noticed the truck start to move, very, very slowly. He was about to go into reverse and it was like he’d just taken his foot off the brake and was just in the process of moving when… SLAM!!!
I thought the truck had hit a crate of wood, as I looked up from the noise and then got hit in the face and arm with projectiles.
Only then did I notice the body splattered on the ground just feet away from me and what hit me was… I don’t know. His cell phone? A shoe? Other stuff that I don’t even want to think about. I was doubled over in shock as I ripped my headphones out of my phone and fumbled to call 9-1-1.
I sort of staggered over to sit on the ledge of a flower box and was trying to breathe as I spoke to the guy on the other end of the phone. Two women came to see me to see if I was ok, I was trying to stay calm, but not doing so well, though I don’t think I was hysterical, just crying. As soon as I sat down the crying started and the guy asked me where I was, what happened, and then transfered me to urgence sante (the ambulance people) and the woman asked me a bunch of questions. I was doing my best to answer them, but really, things like “How old is he?” and “M’am is he breathing?” “Can you see if he’s still breathing?” were not questions I could answer when I had just said “he’s in pieces all over the floor!” To be honest, the question about the breathing almost made me pause and look at my phone in a comical-tv-sitcom reaction because I had just finished telling her that he had splattered and was everywhere. So I just said “he is in PIECES on the ground, I highly doubt he’s breathing!” I was so incredulous about the question and yet Rational Cat in the back of my head knew she was obviously asking all the questions she is trained to ask. I couldn’t tell her how old he was, or if he was caucasian or asian.. all I could see was his short, dark hair and a little forehead and by that point I was farther away and I just COULDN’T look anymore. I apologized and said I couldn’t look again, I couldn’t and that the firemen and police were on the scene couldn’t they look.
This man was in a grey suit and white shirt and tie. He was in a suit and tie. He had gotten up, gotten dressed for work and came in and jumped off a building. With his phone. That’s another thing going on in my head “Who the hell jumps off a building with their phone?” and it HIT ME IN THE FACE and other stuff flew at me and I just keep frantically brushing off my coat because i am worried I have brain and goo all over it. The (very cute) fireman (yes, you do notice these things even in shock), the paramedics and my husband (whom I called right after 911 and came to me right away) all said there was nothing on my coat. I just keep feeling like there is. Like that feeling you get when you find a bug or spider on you and you think you’re covered in them.
I am forever grateful to the two women who stood by me as I was on the phone with 911 and the one who gave me kleenex because I didn’t realize I was crying. I appreciate that they stayed with me even until the paramedics took me into the ambulance and they seemed relived to know I called my husband.
I am grateful to the fireman who sat with me and looked me over and helped me calm down and tried to take my pulse (in the cold, with latex gloves on. I assure you I had one, but I don’t think he found it). I am grateful to the police who came and also asked me what I saw. I don’t know what happened other than a man splattered on the ground in front of me, but when the fireman asked me if there was anyone else I could think of who might have witnessed this I should let him know because they could be in the same state I was in, I realized that the truck driver! The truck driver, who had just started to ever, so slowly start his truck in motion – the man landed right in front of the truck. Right in front. **EDIT** I lost my train of thought as I was writing, I am also especially grateful to the paramedics who helped me, got me to laugh, stayed with me in triage as we waited our turn. They were unbelievably kind and helpful and so nice. Their jobs seem to involve a whole lot of WAITING and they are still super patient and friendly and kind. Thankless jobs they have, I am sure, but I am thanking them now. I should have gotten their names. I didn’t. I wonder if there’s a way I can?
They were still looking for the driver when the ambulance took me (and Shawn) away. I really hope they find him because I know I didn’t want to be alone, so I don’t want him to be alone either.
I was treated for shock, given a note to stay home today, given a prescription for some anti-anxiety drugs so I can sleep at night. I’ll be honest, I took one when I got home at noon and took a 4-hour nap. Then I had some tea and replied to the million texts I got and started this blog post. I needed to get this out of my head in some physical way.
Oh, I also called my parents when I got home and let them know, so they wouldn’t find out from the internet. I had my husband call my boss from the ambulance to let him know I wasn’t going to make the meeting. I know I didn’t really want to go to this meeting, but I suppose I could have called in sick or something equally less traumatic.
All the while in the ambulance I was thinking about the time my sister and father were in a car accident when I was a kid – not a serious one, just a fender bender, but because my sister hit her head they wanted to check her out. This was when we were really young, too. I remember being all jealous that my sister got to ride in an ambulance and I didn’t. So, here, 30-something years later, I’m in the back of the ambulance making jokes about how I’m going to call my sister and say, “HA! We’re finally even! You’re not better than I am!” Only it turns out that my sister didn’t ride in an ambulance that time, rather she was in the back of cop car and thought I was upset she got to ride in a wheelchair and I didn’t. Seems we’ve both been living a lie all this time. Good to know! (I still win the ride in an ambulance round, though!)
I’m still numb, tired, get the shakes, get really cold, feel like I can’t breathe in weird cycles. It’s like my body still doesn’t know what emotion I should be feeling. I keep seeing this man, in his suit, in splattered pieces in my head and I am torn between a deep sadness that he was so broken that he took his own life and a morbid fascination with what happened and at the same time repulsion.
It’s nothing like on tv or in the movies, folks. The noise a body makes when it hits cement isn’t a thud. It sounds like someone dropping a crate of wood, or a skid off a truck. I thought the truck had hit a lamp post, or backed into a crate. It was a sound I will probably startle at for the rest of my life.
I could still see pieced of him on the street from the ambulance window. I don’t think the cops or firemen noticed those little pieces yet and if I’d been facing the other way, I wouldn’t have seen them. But I saw them. I wasn’t grossed out, I was sad, sad for that man.
The 3km walk from the hospital to the bus depot was done holding my husband’s hand and frantically glancing at the tops of all buildings. I think the part I am going to have the hardest with is being terrified there are people on tops of the high rises about to jump in front of me. It was freaking me out by the time we got to the bus. I am now scared of tall buildings.
Please, don’t ever jump off one, my friends. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Hug the ones you love. Tell people you love them. Just please appreciate everything you have in your life.
I am about to go try and eat some dinner now. I haven’t felt queasy or nauseous, just numb. But I know I need food. My head hurts. Shawn made shake and bake chicken with mashed potatoes. I am happy about this. It’s comforting. He’s been my rock all day and for always.
Tomorrow I will go to work and avoid that one street. I was told by the hospital doctor to not avoid it for too long, but I think tomorrow and then the long weekend will be enough. I hope. I don’t want to let fear rule me. But I can’t promise I won’t be watching the tops of buildings for the rest of my life and certainly for the next few weeks. I was told to expect PTSD over the next few weeks, too. That it’s normal for such a trauma.
Oh, and some reference shots from google maps.
Going to take some more deep breaths and have dinner and watch Phineas and Ferb. That should make me laugh.
PS – and I’d really like to thank the best friends I have who helped me get through this with texts. Maureen, Monkey and Elise, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I woke up from a dream that I was writing this post. I was so passionate in the dream as I wrote. It felt so real. I don’t think I can quite capture what I had in the dream right now, in real life, but obviously this is something that means something to me if I was dreaming about it.
I don’t even know how to express this other than, I am tired of the way people over-react incorrectly to things. With social media and instant colliding of information and reaction, this is happening so often and it’s starting to wear me down.
It’s true that you can’t win, you can’t please everyone all the time. So when bad things happen, people will complain about something trivial rather than the main event. When good things happen, people will pick on the one flaw they can find, my guess is because of jealousy. It seems you can’t just be unhappy or happy anymore. There’s always got to be emotional swag accompanying it.
I was annoyed by reactions to the shooting in Colorado - that weren’t about the shooting itself. But what made me start dreaming about this was the reaction to the US Women’s Gymnastic’s team gold medal win. More specifically in regards to the strange attacks against Gabby Douglas and her hairstyle (or lack thereof). For the love of god, people.
First of all, this girl is 16 years old.
And she’s made it to the Olympics.
The OLYMPICS, people.
Not only that, but she helped her team win the GOLD medal in Gymnastics at the 2012 Olympics.
Are you getting this?
A 16-year old girl has made it to the Olympics and now has a gold medal to her name.
That bolded sentence? That is the POINT, people. That is the most amazing accomplishment. Hell, at 16 I was busy ignoring school, writing songs in my school agenda, depressed and suicidal and thinking that maybe the world would be better off without me. This young lady? Ms. Douglas? She’s competing at the Olympics and bringing home THE GOLD.
I don’t know if you happened to catch any of that competition last week, but I saw her on the uneven bars and holy cow was she brilliant. (I couldn’t watch her beam routine because I can’t watch the beam event for fear that I will see people fall and crack their bodies in horrible ways. *shudder*)
And yet… there’s a bunch of people out there who are outraged and criticizing her because her hair wasn’t done in the proper fashion. And what is that exactly? Maybe I don’t get it because it seems to be a race-specific complaint but I just can’t get over how shallow people are being. When you’re an athlete as amazing as this teen is, I am pretty sure HAIR is the least of your worries. WHO CARES WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE, she’s bringing home gold and making history.
Now the focus seems to be on the colour of the gymnast’s uniforms. Not patriotic enough. Oh my god! THEY ARE WINNING GOLD MEDALS. Get over it.
And back when the shooting happened in Colorado? I saw so many people arguing on twitter and facebook about something that had nothing to do with the horrifying act at all. Oh, no. People were focused and ENRAGED over the fact that a couple brought their 4-month old child to a midnight movie premier. HORRIBLE PARENTS! This horrific tragedy obviously would never have happened had these parents been responsible ones and leave their baby at home. How DARE they bring a baby to a movie in the middle of the night exposing the child to a crazy man shooting spree! THEY SHOULD BE PUNISHED! Horrible, horrible parenting! It’s all THEIR fault!
Yeah, so… the baby at the movie? So not the major focus point of that night.
The only reason I can see for this epic outrage over something so trivial from that night was that the actual shooting was so horrific in order for people to process this, they found something small and nit-picky to rage about. Sort of like they explain in paranormal type stories, people don’t like to think they are seeing something unbelievable so their brain tells them they saw something else. Something normal. In this case, the “normal” was someone bringing their newborn to a movie at midnight and this, by many parenting standards is not normal, but understandable. A crazy guy, dressed in combat gear and firing all sorts of weapons at a full theatre, and killing people for no reason isn’t even fathomable to most people, so they can’t process this information, therefore focusing on something small – like bad parenting.
No one was arguing about the sanity of the gunman. No one was talking about the gunman. They were just complaining about the parents for exposing their child to a dangerous situation where there was a person shooting. It’s the parents’ fault. Not the gunman’s fault.
Oh! And this story gets bonus points for all the angry comments I saw where people were OUTRAGED that this guy could buy COMBAT GEAR so easily. Not one word about how he could get guns and ammo so easily, but no, buying combat gear shouldn’t be easy! It should be make illegal! How could someone buy protective gear so simply! It’s an outrage!
Last I checked, combat gear wasn’t what killed those people.
On days where the internet is nothing but negative, outraged people, I have to back away. I avoid twitter, or I just check it through my phone because I always have it on the one list of friends I actually care about and I know they don’t get involved in this sort of stuff. I back away from facebook, though I am lucky enough to not have a newsfeed full of idiot people. I am happy to report that those of you who fill my newsfeed make me happy rather than cranky.
I’m tired of the stupid in the world and although I knew it was there, sometimes social media just makes it was too loud. I am tired of people missing the point entirely and going off on their own rants about things that don’t matter. Sadly, it’s those people who become the loudest. Heck, it was like that while I was on strike, too.
So.. people, let the 16 year old live her dreams, and applaud her for her talent and dedication. Congratulate her for winning two gold medals. Don’t harass her because you don’t think her hair is done right. And as for people going on shooting sprees in public places, you need to regulate gun control in the US. Touchy topic, yes, but I’m sorry, the guy bought 6000 rounds of ammunition and assault rifles. That’s just not normal for such a short period of time and for regular Joe Citizen. That should have sent up flags immediately. But oh no, the problem with that entire deal was that he was able to buy combat gear. Oh, the humanity!
Why can’t people focus on the real issues and just be happy when others are happy and outraged when the situation warrants outrage? I’m just so tired of it all.
Take that, Quebec! I’m pretending to be Canadian by having Monday off as well! Muahahahaha!
Or should I be saying, Take that, Canada!
So the rest of my country has a long weekend this weekend. Bank Holiday or something like that. We don’t get it in Quebec, because heaven forbid Quebec associate with the rest of the country more than it has to (I mean, it has to celebrate Canada Day on July 1! And Victoria Day on May 24! (Only they don’t call it Victoria Day here, they found a French person to celebrate.))
Used to be that I didn’t mind this because we DO get June 24 off for Quebec’s National holiday, and the rest of Canada doesn’t. So fine, let them have the first Monday in August.
But then… Provinces started adding days off that Quebec doesn’t do. Like Family Day. Which is celebrated by most Provinces, though I don’t think all of them have it at the same time of year. I could look that up, but really, I don’t care enough to.
I always forget about the August holiday for my country, but today I got a Kobo newsletter and they’re having a sale for the long weekend in Canada. Right. Long weekend. I’m in Canada, just a snooty part of it that doesn’t like to admit that it’s in Canada.
I am Canadian. Je suis aussi bilingue.
I am also about to start my second week of vacation next week so technically I ALSO get to celebrate the long weekend, only in my case, stores and so on will be open. And I’ll get MAIL (I think… I hope?).
Oh, well.. let’s see how this provincial election goes next month before I decide what part of the country I actually want to live in. As much as I have come to enjoy my own corner of this province, I am not at all looking forward to living in one that is run by people who just want to separate from Canada and become their own country (that for some reason they think will still be funded by Canada. Politicians. Good grief.)
Meanwhile, I shall enjoy my small act of rebellion by also having Monday off with the rest of Canada. It’s not really a rebellion at all, I just like to think I’m being all dangerous and badass in my head because it makes me feel cooler.
We hardly had any kids pass by the house on Halloween. I don’t know where the bazillion kids from the day time go, but they don’t come down my street for candy. I had to flag kids down.
The one time the doorbell rang, it took us all by surprise. Both dogs were super excited that someone came to the door. Shawn went to open the door, I cut him off and he then corralled the dogs away from the door so I could give out *handfulls* of candy.
The conversation was in French, which I will translate for those of you who don’t read it.
Me: Sorry about that.. we had to hold back the dogs. (The door sort of closed over on them before I could get the candy out.)
Kid #1 (excitedly): Are they chihuahuas?!?
Kid #2: *big excited eyes*
Me: Um.. no.. they are big… like Huskies.
(ok, so Finnish Lapphunds aren’t as big as huskies, but I wasn’t about to try to explain “Finnish Lapphund” in French to two kids under the age of 10. And when we go walking around the neighbourhood we are often asked if our dogs are a Husky mix.)
Kids: Oh,ok. *scamper off*
My point is this though:
ARE THEY CHIHUAHUAS?!?
Seriously? Is that what today’s young person thinks of IMMEDIATELY when they hear the word DOG?
Come on now. When did tiny, yappy dogs become the standard dog image? When I was a kid we’d picture Retrievers or German Shepherds or something. Not tiny, rodent-like dogs!
I am super disappointed in the lack of canine education the young people have been getting! Someone needs to school these kids on what a proper dog should be!
(Not that tiny dogs aren’t valid. They aren’t my cup of tea, personally. I still don’t think they should be the first dog image that pops into your head when you hear the word DOG!)
Last night I found out that my neighbour’s wife died at the end of August.
Even though in the (almost) five years I have lived here, I only know my neighbours ever so slightly due to the occasional chat over the back fence, or in the front yard, my stomach dropped to my toes when he told me.
I knew she was sick. For a little while there was a warning in the window nextdoor that oxygen was in use. My neighbour would smoke outside, rather than indoors and at one point over the summer, I heard him telling the neighbours on the other side of his fence (two doors down from me) that his wife had cancer and was in a half-way house sort of deal for the treatments.
I thought she was still there.
It all started when I was sitting outside on the stoop with the dogs waiting for Shawn’s bus to come down the street. My neighbour was outside, smoking, and he said “I have an odd question, is it recycling this week?” I thought about it and replied “No, it’s mortgage this week.” (My mortgage payments are on opposite Fridays to recycling, it makes it easy to figure out.) We both laughed. Then he said “I’ve been a little mixed up with days. I don’t know if you know, but my wife passed away in August.”
“No. My go– no. I didn’t. I’m so sorry.”
He shrugged and said, it’s ok, I’m doing ok.
I said, “I knew she was sick, I heard you telling the people on the other side, this summer. I thought she was still in the hospital.”
He then went on to tell me that on May 31st she was diagnosed with lung cancer. It then spread to her liver, then bones, finally her brain. From the diagnosis at 9am on May 31st until her death at 8am on August 31st, it went fast.
She apparently had it for years and didn’t know. She got a little sick in May and it was a shock to find out what was wrong.
I knew something was up. Not just because of the horrible coughing I could hear in the house over the spring, and not only because of the sign in the window. My neighbour plays his electric guitar for fun and relaxation. He’s pretty good. But he’d been playing it more and more, and it’s louder and louder. I even heard it around 4 in the morning on night. That’s when I knew whatever was going on wasn’t good. I had no idea that his wife had already passed away.
Two weeks ago, my neighbour dismantled the porch swing he had in the backyard. It went in the garbage with some other patio chairs. I remember saying to Shawn that I think that meant bad news. They never take it down in the winter, just cover it with a tarp. His bringing the parts to the front for garbage pick up brought tears to my eyes and I felt my pulse race with worry.
When he told me that he’d lost his wife, less than 2 months ago, I couldn’t hold back the tears as we chatted.
I don’t know them well at all. I know they have two boys, I don’t think either are 30 yet. This is not an old couple. Maybe late 50s? The wife wasn’t that old. For cancer to strike and act so swiftly, it’s just, heartbreaking and terrifying all at once. She was nice. Very shy and nervous about her English, so she wouldn’t say much when her husband would speak with me in English. I’d make sure to speak French with her, because she even let me know she was too shy to try English because it wasn’t good.
We have had them take in our mail for us while we’ve been at Disney World. We talk about the random deaths of my stupid tree in the front yard and I found out that this is a regular occurrence. Even the ice storm didn’t kill it. It’s been dying in the middle of summer for years. We’d talk about all the dandelions in the yard. The swampy backyards. The skunks that live under sheds. We’d curse the amount of snow we’d get, or the lack of snow.
These are people I only know peripherally, because they share a wall with my house. But the thought of her being ill and now knowing she’s passed away, just hit me so hard. These are such wonderful people. The man next door is so friendly and fun to talk with. I hurt for him.
She apparently had no pain. The cancer didn’t kill her, she just faded away. She was ready to go. She’d lost her appetite, even when he’d leave work and pick up her favourite pizza. She wasn’t on much morphine, she was just tired.
When Shawn and I finally came in, he hugged me. I was crying. I said “I don’t like when people die.” Sort of a silly thing to say, because, duh! But it was the only way I could voice my grief over a life that I didn’t really know, but missed.
Over the summer when my neighbour was telling the neighbours who share his other wall what was going on, I heard him say “I promised that I wouldn’t smoke in the house anymore, and even though she’s not home yet, I am keeping that promise.”
He’s still smoking outside to this day.