This will not be a breezy and informative blog post. The topic is serious, but I won’t belabor it. Writing about it is my attempt to accept it, learn from it, and move on.
A year ago today, I witnessed the worst thing I will ever see. Around 11:00 a.m. I was driving north on I-5, in the right lane just south of downtown, in moderately heavy traffic. A sudden movement in my peripheral field of vision drew my attention to something large, like a mattress, on the right shoulder about 50 feet ahead, just beyond an overpass. I automatically took my foot of the gas pedal and checked my mirrors. As I went under the bridge, I saw that the object on the ground was a man lying face-down and motionless very near to my lane. Almost simultaneously, my attention was drawn to the sound of breaks screaming and the sight of cars crashing on my left. As I moved out of the shadow of the bridge and looked in my rear view mirror, I saw all lanes stopped behind me and someone running across the highway to give aid to the man on the ground who had just taken his own life by jumping off the bridge. There was no place to safely pull over. I continued toward downtown, shocked and numbed by what I had seen. Though all of this happened in about five seconds, I remember each sight and sound distinctly.
It’s overwhelming to consider why someone would choose suicide and why they would put many others in real danger by carrying it out in a public place. I waver between amazement at the depths of suffering that caused such drastic action and anger at the apparently self-absorbed nature of this act, perhaps caused by mental illness or drug abuse. It was a tragic sight, and I can’t imagine the confusion and sorrow his family must still feel. Today, the outcome for me has been a reminder of the joy and beauty of life – and that I am overcome by the blessings that surround me in the love of my family and in my grandchildren’s smiles.
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” ~ Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)