One I lost, one I saved. Last week I was reminded of an event most only associate with a TV show or movie they’ve watched. On screen brutality, no matter it be a bar room fight, a mugging or even a murder, is lost to us because it’s only 2D. Seeing those acts of aggression in the real world, in 3D without colored glasses, is a surreal experience. At least that’s how it was for me on January 19th, 1985. That was a day that altered my sense of personal security and my willingness to intercede on the behalf of another. I was witness to a murder.
I won’t go into the details, it is sufficient to say on that day I did not react quickly enough to save a life. At the point in time I finally did take action the life of another was dreadfully about to expire. It was only after the trauma of the situation that I realized the killer saw me and that I was the only witness to the crime. Personal security….out the window! This was not an inner city location; it would be easy to reason I could avoid those uncomfortable locales. No, this sad memory happened in an otherwise safe, new neighborhood in North Phoenix.
I learned another piece of information about myself. Although I didn’t react quickly enough on that occasion, I did commit myself fully and without regard for myself at some point. One never knows until such events happen how they will respond, I know this information now. I can’t tell you how many times since 1985 that I’ve beaten myself up over my 2D reaction to a 3D event.
When do you know you’ve improved your swing? I found out last week. Last week I saved a life. It wasn’t as dramatic as 22 years ago, but the result was a friend whom I’d met on the internet was rescued from certain death.
Although my first contact with Pam was from the internet, I met her in a local area hospital while she was a patient. Seeing her for the first time in the hospital I noticed most her thin arms. I recall on a number of phone conversations she complained the phone was just too heavy and that using the cell phone was easier. She used to brag about how strong her arms were, what I saw was some something akin to a third world starving refugee photo.
Pam continued to keep in touch after her hospital stay. I never knew her to be pessimistic about her prospects in life; she believed she’d be walking again with just a few months in rehab. Her optimism was the stuff of faith and hope, not easily supported by her current circumstance.
Last week I heard from Pam for the first time in perhaps three weeks. She’d moved to a new house with her 18 year old daughter and was excited to get her belongings out of storage for the first time in a couple of years. On this call, Pam was panic’d, her voice weak, she explained how she’d been trying to get a hold of me but the phone was unreliable. I asked how she was doing. For the first time I heard her say she wasn’t well. She was being left alone, unattended for up to 15 hours a day. No one to bring her food, no one to bring her water, no one to help turn her to prevent sores, and for the first time I heard despair in her normally sweet voice.
I asked for her address intending on going out to see her, she couldn’t remember the precise address of her home. I told her she needed to call 911 immediately and get someone out to help her. She continued to insist her daughter would come through for her. After a few more directives to call for help after our call ended, I hung up. The next day, late afternoon, I determined she would not have called, consistent with her pattern of optimism about her only real family helping her. It was then I called 911.
After the authorities confirmed the information I’d given them, a sheriff’s deputy was dispatched. They had to break in the home and removed her immediately, sending her straight to the hospital. The conditions were as bad as I’d believed them to be. She had deep bruises and open sores, and she sprained one of her thin arms trying to help herself.
Two days later Pam called me from the hospital, still weak, but with a sense of relief coming from her.
Friendships we develop on the internet are as immediate as any we would have outside of being online. We don’t need to touch someone, or see into their eyes in order to feel their love, or their need. My swing has improved, I react sooner, and in this case a gentle, soft spoken woman named Pam is smiling again, with optimism in her voice. After 22 years I feel a sense of redemption.
I have family that loves me, friends that care, and my health in tact; I have no problems in life. Thanks for reading this far.