Today was supposed to be a day of friends and riding motorcycles. Planned for just a week or so and anxious to get one of the last good days for riding in, we all met on time and were ready to roll. Today, as it turned out, was the saddest day of my life.
People are always saying how short life is. How your here one day and gone the next. How many times have we heard this and how many times do you really pay attention or understandÂ what that means. Today I found out exactly what it means….
The day started out great. The weather was just what we expected, cool and clear and lots of sunshine. The eight of us met early and started out for Frenchtown NJ, which is a scenic ride along the Delaware River. Everything was going fine, and then it happened.
From my mirror I could see the motorcycle handlebars shaking back and forth and the bike veering out of control. The next thing I remember is a cloud of dust and the bike crashing into the guardrail. It was all, as they say, surreal. I remember screaming “Oh my God, he’s going to crash” or maybe I was thinking it. I can’t remember the details because it seemed like ten minutes in the making but only seconds in reality. A chill came over me instantly and instinct took over. I remember looking again in my mirror to see that the person behind me was aware that I was stopping my bike. Everything happens so fast and yet it seems as though you are watching it through someone else’s eyes.
I was the second person to reach him. My Uncle was the first. We stood there in disbelief that this was happening but remained as calm as possible and checked to see if he had a pulse. His body laid there limp and lifeless, one leg over the guardrail and one twisted under his body. He wasn’t bleeding except for the small amount that exited his mouth with his last breath.
I will never be able to explain how this feels. I have played it over and over in my head for what seems to be a hundred times. My eyes began to tear up as I stood there and waited for the Police and EMT’s. My Uncle came to me and hugged me. I am crying now as I write this.
This man, who I and most of the six other guys, just met today, had died before our eyes. Five minutes earlier we shared words at a gas station and now he was gone. As I stood there over him, I couldn’t help but think how it could have been any one of us that this happened to. I also felt some relief that it wasn’t because I don’t know how I could have kept it together if it had been. I thought about how his family would feel when they learned that he wouldn’t be coming home. How life was taken from him in an instant and he never got the chance to sayÂ good bye to the people he cared about. How he died in front of seven guys he hardly knew but whose lives would be forever changed because of it.
We were all so shaken up, some including me, more than others but as the day progressed it was very evident that we had all been changed by this. The sight replays over and over in my mind and the thoughts of how ” he was here five minutes earlier” makes it harder to comprehend. It is now clear to me what that phrase means. The impact from witnessing it makes me understand just how fast life can be taken away from a person. Even though I was there I feel as if I had just watched a movie and that it couldn’t have happened. We don’t know what happened to him but we all believe that he had a heart attack or stroke and died before his bike crashed. The way in which his bike traveled and with no skid marks, we could only surmise that he was unconscious when he lost control. Looking back on it all, it was probably the best thing that he was because he didn’t feel a thing.
I didn’t know him at all and maybe in some way it is better that I didn’t, but I do feel a needÂ to say goodbye to him. I will make the effort to be at his funeral so I can do just that. I am not a religious person although I do believe in God and Jesus Christ so tonight I will pray for him and his family.
After witnessing this, I understand how precious life is and just how fast it can be taken away. I hope that I can take something positive from this experience and make the best of the life I have. I hope that this image stays with me for life so that I am reminded everyday how lucky I am to have made it this far. And lastly I hope that he didn’t die for nothing but that everyone who was there today realizes just how short life really is…….