month ever.
10:01 AM, Friday, November 7th, 2014:
In situations like this, I rarely wait a couple days to write. In fact, I tend to write WITHIN the moment to capture how it feels in the most honest way possible. Writing also helps me get through and process everything and I tend to want to do that immediately. For whatever reason, I needed a couple days for this. I have a feeling it's because my head wasn't spinning, in fact there was a sense of calm throughout. Usually when I have to write "in the moment" it's because the moment is so intense I need to slow it down by writing it out. This was as slow and methodical as anything that I've been through.
So let's do this, shall we?
I went out for a jog on Tuesday to begin the attack on the extra pounds that October handed me. I've honestly never produced that much video nor organized so much with the guests - all leading to sitting a LOT. The run was slooooooow. Like, 10:30 a mile slow and I was barely making it to 1.5 miles when I noticed some people on the sidewalk looking into the street. I turned my head and saw a man lying in the street with a woman and man beside him.
"Oh, shit." I stopped my running ap at 1.34 miles and just ran straight into the traffic. I knew I could help as I tend to compartmentalize well in emergencies. However, what I came upon was unexpected. The man was a cyclist and he had struck the door of an access van, yet was actually 10-15 feet in front of the van and the front of the van's door was damaged. I couldn't exactly wrap my head around what happened, but I only thought about that for a few seconds as I approached because there was seemingly too much blood considering this had just occurred and the man looked relatively unscratched other than the fact that he was clearly bleeding from the side of his head that was on the ground. Both the woman and the driver were on the phone to 911 and I started rubbing his arm and saying "Hang in there man! They're comin'!" Your first instinct is to stop the bleeding, but the speed that he was bleeding out (and had already bled out) was simply overwhelming. The driver took off his coat and asked if I could lift his head to maybe compress the cut - which I did. But within roughly 30 seconds my tone had changed. Although he was breathing with his eyes open, it was clear he was passing.
"Everything's alright man. Help is coming." My tone as soft as possible near his head as I rubbed his arm, and held his hand. I then put my hand on the back of the woman next to me on the phone as she seemed unaware that he was passing. She was still frantic with the 911 operator trying to relay information on his condition and I tried to show with my face, shaking my head toward her, that this wasn't going to end well. I didn't want the last things for him to hear to be frantic. We all deserve that if possible. Whenever it's our time, hopefully there's a bit of peace as we pass, even in an accident. I think she understood and the 3 of us watched him pass as the ambulance and fire truck arrived just seconds later.
As strange as this sounds? I can't think of a more peaceful way to go. Clearly the impact had knocked him out for a bit, and within that time he simply bled out. He was breathing through his nose, no gasping for breath, no convulsions... at the end he blinked maybe once or twice and slowly passed. I've seen several people pass in my life (strange to write) and this was by far the most peaceful, if not surreal, thing I've ever witnessed. Not that we ever want to die in an accident, but it should be noted that it was peaceful and he heard nothing but soft affirmations. The only surreality was what we saw which was a man almost placed in the position. Laying on his side, no scratches or scrapes visible, a bike laying down below him, a pall mall cigarette pack in front of him and a cell phone at his legs. Yes, there was blood, but it was so perfectly circular around him, it seemed like a painting. I've seen some pretty gnarly accidents in my time - hell even minor accidents with cuts and blood that were quite graphic... this was nothing like that.
The ambulance and truck arrived and once they took over they asked us to step onto the sidewalk, which we did. The driver went back in his car (the passenger in the access van in the backseat, still sitting there in horror at what had just transpired) and just then a man ran from behind me, into the street, to take a picture.
The fireman said "Come on man, back on the sidewalk" in such a routine way, that it occured to me he does this all the time. This is the new normal. People with their cell-phones out. I looked up and saw 2 other people across the street doing the same thing. I was absolutey mortified. I can understand if you see a fire? Or maybe a fantastic positioning of a car wreck (car goes through a shopping mall window, etc.) but this? Just a guy lying in the street. What on earth are you taking a picture for? To instagram it?  To share it on Facebook? I was baffled by this. And clearly, I'm a guy who documents everything, but there's a modicum of decency expected in death, right? I mean, this wasn't Michael Jackson. Are we all celebrities now? Are we all paparazzi? It was too much to try and wrap my head around.
I went up to the driver who was making phone calls and put my hand on his shoulder and asked if he was alright. I believe he was still in shock, but I was thankful he had the integrity to stay on the scene and help the man. The news has been full of stories about people running from things like this. He was going to spend the rest of his life knowing his actions, however involuntary, killed a man. Strangely, that was the moment I felt emotional. The death is obviously more tragic, but that story arc was over. The driver's was just beginning and would last decades. We all make mistakes, few of us ever kill someone. Just, so sad.
I left. It felt wrong to keep watching once I no longer had a reason to be there and I folded my fingers on top of my head and started walking home. It was less than a 1/4 mile from where I lived and that was almost too quick. I stared at the blood on my right hand as I walked and tried to wrap my head around everything, which of course I couldn't. When I got home I stood in the backyard for a minute not knowing how to react. The kids are obviously too young to understand but they can certainly sense stress. I went in and washed my hands and Talya was with both kids in their room. I said "There was an accident... and I just comforted a man who was dying." And then I started to lose it a bit and had to turn around and go into the kitchen before the kids saw me. Something about putting it in words always hits you. Talya left the children in the room and came in and hugged me while I cried for a few moments and I explained things the best I could. They were getting ready to go to their play group and she asked if I wanted her to stay and I said "Honestly, it would help if you left - I'd like to write." So she continued to get them ready while I opened my laptop. Before I could write however, I had to say something about the picture takers online. Some type of "Hey people, fucking think before you pull your phone out."
"To the people taking pictures while we tried to keep a bicyclist hit by a car awake in a pool of his own blood - fuck you. What on earth would you possibly do with that picture? This was it. His last fucking breaths. Put down your phone. A few moments of silence. I'm not even sure what's more upsetting, that I wasn't able to help this man or that you're INSTAGRAMMING it.
And to everyone - and this from someone who documents his life online with video - think before you pull that phone out. Accidents happen and I'll move on from the images I just saw of that man, but you fuckers with your phones out will live in my brain forever."
That's when Talya came into the bedroom and screamed because behind me to my right was Cameron, holding an open bottle of sleeping pills upside down in his mouth with his left hand. I had forgotten to put the pills away the night before and also didn't close the lid all the way.
I grabbed the bottle from him, it was now empty. He had 2 pills in his other hand which he then put to his mouth. There were pills on the floor and I started to count them. There were 36 of 60 there, I had taken 2 the night before so that's 38 and in my head I couldn't imagine how many I had already taken. A pretty liberal guess was at least 12 which still left 10, maybe, unaccounted for. Of course he seemed fine, even giggling a bit when Talya picked him up. I was in an absolute haze however and the thought of him having to go to the hospital and get his stomach pumped seemed so extreme if he hadn't taken anything. So I handed him 4 pills to see if he would actually take them. He did, put them ALL in his mouth (at which point I got them back out) and I called 911 to get to poison control. They sent an ambulance (which I later cancelled and Talya just took him as it would be quicker and far less traumatic for Vienna) and this unbelievable hour of my life continued.
Cam fell asleep in the car, but ended up waking back up (he was overdue for a nap anyway) and remained awake at the hospital long enough for the doctors to believe he hadn't taken any. Now, that was one sentence in what was nearly 90 minutes of stress so acute that your brain actually checks out. Curious as to what that looks like? Here ya go: 
That video is probably only fascinating to me, but when do you get a chance to see how your face reacts to stress? As the longest video-blogger I do instinctively tape myself in these moments. Kind of a cool thing to have if I needed to "act" stressed for a role or something. Might actually be too subtle, but man it sure is real. And yes, I had I noticed my hands were actually shakin a bit and I'm not ashamed to say I poured a little whiskey to try and calm my nerves. I still had to care for Vienna and considering the day I was having I was expecting her too to embark on an emergency that would test my ability to compartmentalize. Thankfully I understood Cameron was gonna be alright around the time the whiskey kicked in and I was able to exhale a bit.
He got home, I hugged him to the point of wanting to suck him INTO my body through my chest and just quietly cried. He went down for a nap and I ended up pacing a lot. "One of those days" we joked, although it was clear that what I had experienced some people never experience and, well, it's something that had happened to me a few times. Besides seeing both of my grandmothers pass as an adult, when I was 12 I was home sick from school and I saw my neighbor shoot his wife to death on their front lawn. Crazy, right? It's been a part of my psyche for 25 years and it's still very bizarre to write. I didn't tell anyone I saw it for a day or two but finally had to 'cause it was eating me up to hold back that information. I honestly didn't want to deal with the onslaught of concern when for whatever reason it didn't effect me that much. Ended up the guy was on medication and also an alcoholic. There was a fight, he shot her then shot himself in the backyard. I knew he wasn't in his right mind and, well, there ya go. For whatever reason, even though I was a very emotional kid, logic trumped it. Of course when I told my mother she was rightfully concerned and had me talk to some psychologists and friends, etc. I appreciated the gravity of the situation but my biggest memory of the aftermath was playing Castlevania with the sound down while trying to say the right sentences to the psychiatrists on the phone that would get them to tell my mother I was fine. It just didn't really traumatize me like it may have other kids. <shrugs> No explanation for why and if it happened to my kids I would've done the EXACT same thing my mother did. Smart lady. Smart little boy, too.
Once Cameron was okay, writing was not something I wanted to do, strangely. I knew this day was far bigger than usual big days and I certainly wasn't going to lose the "moment" if I didn't write it down immediately. No, every single detail would be with me for years. I needed a day or two to decompress. To go outside alone, and cry for a few moments, then play with my kids. The day also didn't seem that negative, oddly. It wasn't a "bad" day. The truth was, I got to comfort someone who was passing. That was a gift to that man and I was proud that I ran into that busy street when so many other chose to not get involved or, for fuck's sake, to take pictures. In regards to Cameron? I was able to make an unbelievably horrible mistake as a parent - and he was fine. There is no better fortune in life than to have that happen. I wrote the following status the next day:
"Yesterday, within an hour, there were two incidences of common, every day carelessness we are all capable of. That driver didn't check his mirror before opening his door at the exact moment a cyclist was BESIDE him and I didn't shut a sleeping pill bottle tight enough and my 10 month old had it open, upside down, and in his mouth. We race him to the ER, he is fine - the cyclist dies.
The only reason my family isn't devastated, although I made arguably a more careless mistake, is good fortune. That has to be the most humbling day of my life."
That's the actual weight of November the Fourth. That two moments of carelessness ended so drastically different. It's humbling. You have to know that we're all EXTREMELY fortunate to be here. Life really is fragile, it really is temporary and we ought to spend a lot less time judging each other and a lot more time loving each other. Though the fuckers that had their phones out need to be slapped around a bit. ;-)
Also, the added info about the driver opening the door beside the cyclist came from the news report on the event that said the cyclist was riding WITH traffic. Only way I could see the front of the car door being damaged was that he opened it when the cyclist was beside him. All still conjecture at this point - though I'm fairly certain the driver will be charged. I'm torn with how I want that to be handled legally. If it was my family member on the bike, I'm not certain I'd want the driver to have HIS life ruined when the reality is? Our infastructure for bikes in this city is fucked. There were no bike lanes on this street, and even if there were? They're RARELY outside of the space where you would open your car door. Clearly the driver didn't check and should have, but the actual issue is the cramped spaces and outdated urban design of our city. The driver is already going to live with this his entire life, I cannot see where further penalties help here. Jail time? Loss of job... I just - it doesn't equate in my book. The man jumped in to help immediately, stayed to answer every question - this isn't the person we want locked up...
...then again? There should be a penalty when your carelessness causes the death of someone. Had Cameron died swallowing those pills? I would certainly be culpable and would understand there being punishment, but could anyone argue Vienna losing her father for a couple years is a justified response to my mistake? Negligence is a very subjective area of the law. Each case is different. And clearly I'm on both sides here.
So there was my election day. Didn't get to vote. Sorry about that. I had looked up my polling place before my run and even toyed with the idea of taking the whole family to vote after everything we had been through just to show people it mattered, but I was honestly scared to leave my house after that. I just wanted the day over and didn't want to risk getting in a car. I think I get a pass on that one.
What a day.