I have a friend who writes a blog that causes me to think about myself. She is always asking questions. She frequently has a challenge. She is a complex, highly intelligent woman who thinks deeply.
Something I just read on her blog was about courage, and I wondered if I thought of myself as a courageous person. I don’t think I do. Perhaps I did at one time, but age and attitude have kept me off mountain peaks, out of wars, and quiet when I should have been loud.
Once I was in a thrift shop and I watched a woman smacking her child around. She was holding him aloft by his arm, and as he dangled a foot off the floor, she swung hard at his bottom and legs which had him spinning back and forth. He was howling. I glared, and moved closer to see if that would stop her. It didn’t. She was a big woman and she was wild-eyed. I could see that I might have joined him in harms way had I come to the boy’s aid, and to this day I regret not taking that chance. I should have at least gotten her tag number in the parking lot and called the police. I’m surprised my shame has allowed me to even mention this.
But once I was driving behind a car that went airborne, flipping 6 to 7 times, high in the air, right in front of me. I watched the driver be ejected, and can still clearly see his body flapping like a flag while coming out of the driver’s side window. One second he was in front of me, and then whoosh, he disappeared. I was out of my car before it came to a complete stop. I was running in circles looking for his body, which landed in the middle of I95 behind my car. Vehicles were dodging both of us, but I got to him first. He was still conscious, though barely, and he begged me to not let him die. There was blood coming out of his mouth and onto me. I told him I was a nurse and I wouldn’t let him die. And then he went unconscious.
I had no “crash cart,” but I organized his stabilization, checked for bleeding, got him covered, directed others to secure the area, and waited for the helicopter. His injuries were internal, and all I could do was wait for his pulse to stop and start CPR. He was alive when they took him. To me, that was the most courageous thing I ever did. But then aside from being struck myself, there was little fear for my own safety.
I think we all like to see ourselves as having courage, but compared to the person who, just this afternoon, came upon an accident on the Buckman Bridge (a span of over three miles), watched a man ejected into the St. Johns River, grabbed a rope ladder out of his car, climbed down and saved the drowning, injured man, I think my story pales in comparison.
There are so many heros among us. I wish the news would tell us more of these people. Courage happens every day, but unless it is caught on camera, and makes it to Youtube, we don’t hear too much about it.