28 March 2010

at the very least, a case for wearing a helmet.

Last night, a friend and I were headed home after a very long day.  He hit a deep pothole and crashed his bike.  I was riding slowly behind and don't really remember seeing him crash, just feeling like I was moving in slow motion as I rode up to him, and tried in vain to enable my kickstand.  Exasperated, I threw the bike down and slowly pieced things together.  He was not getting up. He was unconscious.  He was breathing heavily.  A stream of blood spilled out of his head onto the pavement.  I felt one hundred percent helpless, alone, yelling his name in the yellowy streetlight and wishing he had been wearing a helmet. 

A car stopped and the couple in it called 911.  A cop came instantly and my friend came to.  An ambulance came and efficiently took him away on a backboard, leaving me to make frantic phone calls.  They asked me if I wanted to go in the ambulance, but what would become of our bikes?  I was completely bewildered. The cop waited in his car while I sat out on the curb, waiting with the bikes until my roommate came by bike to wait for a friend with a car to come.  We huddled together and tried to process the horror of the incident, and then we crammed the bikes and three people into a Ford Focus hatchback.  My roommate rode off to the hospital and I was taken home to be managed and consoled because, as you can imagine, I was pretty out of it.

It is an awful and surreal thing to be covered in the blood of someone you love.  

Even though my coat has been washed and all the stains came out, I still see the blood smeared in bright red relief against the sublime light gray cotton.  I was wearing my terror, my fear, the feeling that the moment had somehow transformed me.  

Feeling like la pieta there in the street, I couldn't help but wonder what it means to be washed in the blood of The Lamb.  

(my friend has come out battered but alright- still at the hospital, he has been treated for a concussion and facial fractures. we are pooling our dollars to buy the man a helmet.)


Loving the Bike said...

Nice post and what a good thing to be promoting. I just got back from Belize where I saw a ton of road cyclists out on a super busy and narrow highway....and most of them were not wearing a helmet.
It's part of the bike and a necessity for us all. Good post.

Matt in Tacoma said...

Thanks for continuing to promote helmets and for sharing this story. Wishing your friend a speedy recovery.

Big Sister said...

Wishing him a speedy recovery and so sorry he had to learn such a hard lesson. Thank you for your post and advocacy, take care little sis.

Andrew H. said...

A very important, vital point.

Best wishes for mending fellow biker!

melanie said...

Thanks for the kind words, folks. It was a hard experience to write about but your comments make me glad I did. solidarity- melanie

Mom said...

Well done you!!! Glad the friend is on the mend. Helmets are a must, need to keep heads safe! Take care and thanks for the reminder!