Ironically, "Keep Breathing" by Ingrid Michaelson was on my ipod when I rounded the corner and came up on the guy standing just beneath the crest of the hill.
I'd noticed as I ran south in foothills the group of people, but was too far away to see what they were doing. I figured it was hikers, or even a group of folks out praying since, after all, it was Easter.
I switched off my ipod and walked up the hill toward the man, who had his back to me, staring at something I couldn't see. I saw the helicopter, and the EMTs standing in a semi-circle. They were doing chest compressions on--on what?
"Is this a training exercise or a real emergency," I whispered. I'd just had my refresher training in CPR so right away I was thinking: they're practicing on a CPR dummy. But most of those don't have legs.
Two others were in dirt-bike riding attire, and there were three dirt bikes. I wasn't sure what to do. It seemed insensitive to walk on by. It seemed insensitive to stop and stare.
EMTs talking to each other in low voices, and into a radio. "They started doing chest compressions when he went down. That was at 9:35." I looked at my watch. It was 9:55. One EMT said something to another in a low voice, "probably not much heart muscle left."
Who would get the call on Easter Sunday, that their husband, father, or brother was gone?
The other two bikers were with him when he went down, after climbing a long hill. From what i could see, this wasn't a frequent activity. One of them told me that whenever they stopped CPR, the guy's pulse would immediately stop. I told them in a low voice that I was sorry for the loss of their friend, and walked quietly away, down a long hill. About 20 yards from the scene I came upon a lone helmet. I left it there.
About a mile later, the helicopter lifted off over the hill and flew south, toward University hospital.
I spent the rest of the day emersed in writing final papers for classes, but during breaks, my thoughts wondered to the mountain biker. Who was missing him already? Or had he, by some miracle, been recusitated? It's not likely. I don't know if I'll know who the guy was.
You hear people talk about how they "want to go" and I suppose that some might think that a beautiful morning in the northern foothills would be it. I don't know. Frankly, the guy's dark hair made me think he should have had more time left than that, and he oughtn't to have gone at all that day. He looked like he might have been my age, although it is hard to tell sometimes.
I don't know if all that I do will actually extend my life. Science says it will. I don't know what kind of genetics I have because most of the people in my family are overeaters and alcoholics, but i do have one Aunt, a retired physician who at 85 still walks to yoga class. She gives me hope that at 46 i am, indeed, middle-aged.
But overall, when I do go, I want to be certain for my family's sake that I did all I could to stay around.