On Saturday, February 16th, I was at work and it was a crazy busy day, as it normally is. My normal schedule is to work in the back for 2 hours and then work the circulation desk for 2 hours to cover lunches. The first 2 hours went by as normal. I could hear a lot of activity going on out front, but only peeked my head out when absolutely necessary. I love my job, I love helping our customers, but I have to admit that I do relish the time I get away from the desk. Horrible, I know. But it's the truth.
Then came time for me to head out to the desk to do my shift out there. I grabbed my drink and walked out into the flurry of activity. I don't mind it when it's busy, it makes the time go by much faster. The coworker taking her lunch first was working on the concierge desk, which is a desk kinda stuck out by itself. We are supposed to be the first person the customer sees, and we smile and greet as many of them coming in as we can. On busy days, unfortunately we don't get to smile and say hello to everyone. This day was no different. I noticed people as they were walking in, some I recognized as regulars and others were just random faces in the sea of faces.
I had only been at the desk for about 30 minutes when a lady came up to me to inquire about a problem with her card. I was checking her account when behind me I heard what sounded like someone falling and the absolutely horrible sound of someone's head hitting the ground HARD. It didn't immediately alarm me because while we don't have a lot of accidents at the library, there are some, mainly kids falling because they're horsing around. And it was a very busy day with lots of people and activity.
I leaned back to look around the column that was blocking my view, and that's when I saw a grown man sprawled out on his back on the floor. I would like to say that I immediately jumped up to assist, but I'm pretty sure I was frozen in place. My manager rushed to his side, along with several other customers. I watched, frozen, as the man sharply and loudly inhaled. My manager was asking him if he was alright and if he needed assistance, all the while a crowd was growing. He was completely unresponsive. I know I turned back to the lady I was previously helping, offered an apology, then turned back to the unfolding horror.
I watched helplessly as the man was breathing laboriously and very shallowly, and turning a frightening color of grey. That's when I noticed the blood on the floor, which was obviously coming from the back of his head. A customer that I had helped not 10 minutes previously was asking for sterile gloves, and she was waved to the backroom by my coworker who was on the phone with 911. I once again apologized to the woman standing in front of me, then ran to the back to help the customer looking for the gloves. I gave her a pair, then ran to the breakroom to grab some paper towels to soak up the blood.
The whole time I was on auto-pilot, responding to the requests being screamed at me from various people. "We need ice!" "Get me a wet washcloth!" I remember mentioning to someone scrambling around him to watch out for his glasses, which were very close to being crunched under someone's foot. Funny how that was a concern for me, while this man is laying on the floor, barely breathing and bleeding from the back of his head.
I watched as people argued over whether or not to roll him onto his side or leave him on his back, whether or not to use ice on his face or just a wet rag. The poor man was rolled around and picked up (his top half, not his whole body), before they finally decided it was best to just let him be because paramedics were on their way. I attempted to go back to work and help the customers that needed help, but I just couldn't hardly concentrate and kept looking back over at the crowd and the poor man on the floor. Mainly, I was watching to see his chest moving because I desperately wanted him to be breathing. But he wasn't.
After what felt like an eternity, the fire department got there and immediately began CPR. I couldn't help but stand there and watch, willing him to breathe on his own and at least respond somehow. Yet, he was doing neither one of those things. I simply could not fathom what was happening right before my eyes. Then, I watched as they removed his jacket and shirt so they could attach the electrodes from the defibrillator. My heart sank and I felt my knees begin to buckle. How could this happen? This can't really be happening!
About this time, I became aware of a lot of shouting away from the people attending to the man on the floor. I managed to look away and find the source of the shouting. Two women were screeching at each other while my manager and coworkers were trying to separate them and push the ever-growing crowd of gawkers (including CHILDREN) back to give the responding emergency crew room to work. They were able to separate the women and get most of the onlookers to move back.
Finally, the EMTs got there. I say finally because it truly felt like forever, when in fact they were there within mere minutes. The CPR continued as they talked with the firefighters about what was going on, what they had done, and what they had observed. The whole time I couldn't hardly tear my eyes away from him, pleading silently for him to move, to make some sign of life. But he didn't.
They got him loaded up on the gurney and wheeled him out to the waiting ambulance, all the while CPR was STILL being administered. I just knew in my heart that he wasn't going to make it, if he wasn't dead already. A few firefighters came back in to clean up the mess on the floor. They wouldn't say anything about his condition or prognosis. Terrifying.
I attempted to go back to work once it was all over, but it was just going through the motions. My mind was spinning wildly and I could hardly focus on anything. Several customers remarked on the sadness of the situation, recounting similar experiences. I just nodded and finished up their business, then went back to being in total shock. I have never witnessed anything like that before in my life, and my brain was struggling to process everything I'd just witnessed.
The rest of the day was just a blur. We went to a book signing that I had been very much looking forward to but seemed very inconsequential after the event at the library. Later that evening I got a text from a coworker telling me that the library was bringing in a counselor for us to speak to the next day if anyone felt like it. I agreed, not exactly ready to go back to the scene but definitely wanting to talk things out.
I only slept for maybe 3 hours tops that evening, my brain insisted on replaying the whole scene over and over and over again. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't shut it up.
When I arrived at the library on Sunday, I knew I looked haggard because I certainly felt that way. But, I was met with what I perceived to be good news. My manager had spoken to the hospital and they gave her all the information that they could, which was that he was in intensive care. A huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. He was ALIVE! I couldn't believe it! I ran to an empty office and just sobbed, I was so relieved. Speaking with the counselor definitely helped to put the whole thing in perspective, and I walked out of there feeling better. Then Monday happened.
Monday we were closed for President's Day, which was nice because I was still totally exhausted and not fully mentally functioning. I decided, for some strange reason, to check my work email. That is when I learned via email from my manager that she had heard from the gentleman's son, and that he was on life support and was in fact brain dead. It all came crashing down again. So I really had watched someone lose their life on the floor of my work. I didn't want to believe it, but that was the cold hard truth.
And, the final blow came today when I learned that he had passed away. It seems selfish of me to even think of myself during this time, because he was just a customer and not a family member. But it was a traumatic experience for all involved, and has very much impacted me.
I'm still sorting through all of it, the memories and feelings. I hope that some day it will not hold as much pain and sadness and terror for me that it does right now.
Just one day at a time right now, just one day at a time.
Seriously, though... I've gotten to that point in life again where I become so unhappy with myself that I launch a campaign of dramatic reform. The time is almost nigh, and I thought maybe putting it out publicly would make me hold myself more accountable for following through with my plans (something I'm notoriously bad at doing... I blame ADD. :P ). I'm putting it out there now because I don't want this to be confused for a New Year's resolution (which I don't believe in). However, I also think it's a little foolish for me to try to start any changes during the holiday season. So, I'm allowing myself this last time to fully indulge before I really shake things up. Merry Christmas to me! :P
I have decided that it's time to lose some weight and get back into shape. It's only partially about how I appear to myself in the mirror every day (I'm not really narcissistic). I think it's really about just being happy with oneself (which I'm not), and so that calls for a change in how I conduct certain aspects of my life. Gonna have to say "So Long" to my old pal, Dr. Pepper and ALL fast food. That's not going to be easy. :P As far as exercise goes, I'm just going to have to MAKE time for it. Having a soon-to-be toddler makes doing anything for any extended period of time extremely difficult. I'm thinking that morning is going to be about my best shot it because by the time I get home from work in the evening, exercise is the last thing on my mind.
TV. TV has got too much of a hold on me, it's time to cut the cord. Not literally, of course, don't worry honey. :P But, I need to drastically reduce the amount of time I spend in front of it. I want & need to read more, to my son and for myself. Socialization is also a goal, we have family and friends that we need to visit more often. Bear is getting old enough to really start interacting with other children, and I love watching him grow and change.
My photography, my art, is so important to me. I, along with my incredibly talented husband, have made a goal for us in 2011 to have a gallery show. To see our pictures hanging on the wall of an art gallery would be so incredible. This will require some work, some money and some leg work. But I think that this is something that I really need to achieve.
I'm feeling very optimistic. I'm enjoying myself now, indulging in things I shouldn't, and knowing it will all end soon. And I'm very OK with that. :)
Had a mini meltdown this morning. I'm stressing myself out unconsciously, I need to quit. But, I'm still trying my best to maintain. Baby steps... baby steps...
I'm eyeballing the empty canvas hanging right outside my door in the garage. I think it's about time to slap some paint onto it.
*coffee's "percolating" now*
Got quite a bit of work done around the house this weekend, which always makes me feel good. I like to feel like I've accomplished something. My short attention span doesn't want me to be adept at finishing tasks before I've wandered off.
*time for Bailey's!*
Mmmmm.... That hits the spot. #2 for the day but spread out over many hours.
I'm laughing at my dearest who's drooling over guitars online next to me. How I love him. :)
Guess I'm just filling time and space here, didn't really come into this post with a real topic in mind.
So this is what you get. *NYAH* :P :P :P
#1 - My absolutely adorable and special and totally rad Bears, Daddy and Baby Bear. They are the light of my life, the reason I get up in the morning (usually before both of them :P ); they are the reason that I do everything. I cannot imagine my life without either one, they are truly essential to my being.
#2 - My truly generous and supportive and big-hearted family, my parents and my grandmothers and my cousins who have given so much to us that there is no way that I could possibly repay all of them in this lifetime. I should not and cannot fail to acknowledge my truly special mother-in-law who I am eternally grateful for and wish that she lived closer.
#3 - My friends, those wonderful people who bring sunshine into my heart and my life. A big shout-out to the awesome Tulsa Area Mom's group that brought many of these women into my life. They truly are my sanity in my travels through motherhood. I love them! :)
#4 - My job, and my job helps me to be ever so thankful TO have that job. Every day I see people looking for jobs, updating resumes, testing for certifications. My heart goes out to them and makes me appreciate that I'm not only working and getting a paycheck, but working with some truly amazing individuals. A few have moved on to newer and different things in their lives and new ones have moved in, but I absolutely love my co-workers (throughout the entire library system and I love that I get paid to help people). I am truly blessed.
#5 - I am thankful for the people that have given their lives before, are giving their lives now, or will give them in the future, to protect the country that I live in and the freedoms that I am grateful to have. Military, police, fire, paramedics...I'm sure that my brain is forgetting someone but my heart is not.
It feels like there is more that I should be thankful for, and I believe that I am, but I'm finding myself sitting here and blankly staring at my desk trying to come up with a #6. I feel pretty confident that I've hit the super important parts of my life that I'm thankful for, and will spend from here on out finding something else every day to appreciate. :)
- Candles, oh how I LOOOOOOOVE candles. Yankee candles are by far my favorite, some of Target's candles are quite yummy, and then there are the Glade and Febreeze candles that I've recently gained quite an appreciation for.
- Gift cards, most especially for places that sell gas. But, I'll pretty much accept a gift from anywhere. I can find SOMETHING I like just about everywhere (especially when I just hand over the gift card LOL).
- Manicure, pedicure, massage, facial... Any or all of them, just need a little pampering.
- A sushi lunch or dinner, with my love or a good friend.
- Wine, preferably red (like a cab, a shiraz, a merlot) but I'm really not one to turn down wine of any sort.
- Flowers, they are one of my most favorite photographic subjects.
- Did I mention Candles and Wine?
And now for some seriously wishful thinking:
- A positive self-image, a fair amount of self-esteem and a smattering of courage
- A return of family members who are greatly missed
- The return of good friends who have moved away
- The ability to take back all the horrible things I've said and done in my lifetime
- A Union Jack Mini Cooper
- An English Bulldog puppy
- A year-long excursion to Europe
I know that there are other things that I could add to these lists, but they are really only just for "giggles". This Christmas is going to be more about watching my nearly 1 year old son enjoy the heck out of "opening" his packages and spending quality time with my family.
I often in conversation, when people are talking about and reminiscing about things they've done in the past, the places they've gone and such, crazy things they've done, etc., clam up and decide that it's probably better for me to not participate. It almost seems inappropriate (and at least somewhat uncomfortable to me) to discuss a life, with lots of memories and friendships, that no longer exists. Or if I do decide to let slip a little bit of information, I keep it as general as possible all the while detailing the important bits.
Moving and the subsequent unpacking led me to discover two boxes of photos (and framed photos) of said past life. I hesitated, chewed on my nails, walked away from them, came back to them several hours later, looked at the boxes, chewed on my nails... Do I keep these? I mean, getting rid of them is almost like throwing away a piece of my life, whether it is a life that I'm living at this point. But keeping them is a somewhat painful reminder and, in doing so, I'm afraid that it'll be uncomfortable to people. Plus, explaining who these total strangers are to people who don't know is just another twist of the knife.
And just now I'm thinking, "Why are the pictures and conversations bothering you? You seem to encounter them somehow rather frequently on Facebook." No one is specifically interacting with ME, but these pictures and stories involve my experiences with my past.
I'm keeping the pictures, occasionally I paw through them (generally going through large chunks, taking my time with each one is just too much) but for the most part they stay stored and rarely looked at.
I'm also keeping the memories, there are some truly great ones. Maybe I'll journal them sometime. As far as sharing them, I'm not entirely sure how I feel. I guess it all just depends on the situation and how I feel and such.
It seems strange to be bothered by all of this, since I am so happy in my life now. And I hope that everyone that I knew has the same thing. As painful as it was, I believe that things happened the way that it was supposed to, for the best of each and every one of us.