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There is times that we seem to go through certain activities in our day that become so routine that we often don't think about them. Then comes a day that not only changes that so common routine but also has a major impact on your life. It is a day that you think about what is most important in life, makes you think about those who are most important to you, and may have an impact on your very future. Yesterday was one of those days for me and it started first thing in the morning.
At least three, and usually four or five a days a week I head to the Portland Community College track and exercise as it is just a short walk down a trail from where I live. I arrived at the track at about 5:30 and was about to start my first walk around the track when I noticed something laying along the track about a quarter around from where I start. At first I thought it might be some garbage that was dragged there by the neighborhood foxes or coyotes that live in the area but as I got closer I realized it was a person lying on the ground.
I approached with trepidation, not sure why someone would be lying on the ground on the track at this time of the morning. I first looked for signs that he was breathing and didn't see any. Next I checked for a pulse but there was none and the he was very cold realizing that whoever this person was he was dead. I immediately called 911 and within a short time police and fire showed up at the seen. The paramedics did a quick check of the body and confirmed that he was indeed gone. By this time two other guys that are usually at the track at this time of day showed up and became part of the scene. Both the Portland Police and the PCC Public Safety took my information down on what happened. The police then asked us to leave the area which we did and I headed home in a sort of a daze and had a hard time concentrating on work the rest of the day.
Its not like I have not seen death before. I have seen dead bodies before most recently when my mother passed away and I arrived at the nursing home about 15 minutes before the funeral home. I have also seen some gruesome scenes such as a guy who tried to run across a freeway in Mississippi and a couple of incidents of people getting hit by trains but finding a body was different.
I often thought that I had become desensitized to death having dealt with it so much in life. When I was in the 7th grade I was going to a small private school in South Pasadena, California. My class was made up of only 9 students, 2 of them being girls. One weekend one of the girls along with a friend went to a nearby mall and never returned. A couple of weeks later the girls bodies were found and it turned out they had become the youngest victims of notorious Hillside Stranglers that scared Los Angeles for a period. They always say the worst thing is for a parent to bury a child which I hope I never have to do, but a 12 year old having a classmate murdered by a serial killer also ranks up there pretty high. While Dolly's death was tragic, at least some good did come of it. Until this point all the of the victims had been prostitutes so the LAPD, media, and the public in general seemed to not care about the victims but when two pre-teens became victims it seemed to wake up the public and the authorities to the real dangers of the murders who were caught shortly there after.
Just a few years later when I was a senior in high school one of the members of my class would die of cancer. Two years after graduating I had to deal with another murder of someone I knew who was killed in an armed robbery as four assessments came into his place of business shooting. To make that tragedy even worse he was a couple of years older than I was and his wife was 8 months pregnant with their second child. There was times I began to think it was bad luck to be friends with me.
That brings me back to yesterday. Over the past few months I have been pushing myself harder and harder as I work on becoming more physically fit and loose weight. There was a couple of times that I wondered what would happen if I pushed myself too hard on the track, would there be anyone there to help me? When the police arrived they thought it might have been something other than natural since the person appeared to be around 30 years old but since the death has not made the news despite a KGW film crew showing up I am guessing they found out that he was not murdered.
The worst part is the person had no identification on him of any kind so the police were worried about finding out who he was. This brought up even more questions in my mind. Who was this person whose life came to an end all alone with one one to help him? Had he been running the night before and had been laying there for several hours? Was there people worried about him but the police could not locate them easily because he had no identification on him?
He was just one of many anonymous people that I see out on the track on any given day. But know his death has touched me and probably the other people that were day yesterday. Even in death our lives can have an affect on other people in big ways. Whether it is the beautiful young girl whose death was so tragic to the unidentified person who went to exercise and never made it home. In fact we have even more to think about on this subject being the anniversary of 9/11.
The biggest lesson to be learned is that you need to live life to the fullest and not let fears get in your way because you never know when time will come.