Death behind the IHOP

House of PancakesBetween the pancake house and the Fitness center is where he died. I walked into the scene. A desperate, frantic wife was improvising mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her failing husband, where he lay half in the car, his feet splayed out the passenger door. He was gasping; his tongue was bulging out his mouth, and a small trickle of blood came from somewhere on his face.

She was whimpering. A firetruck pulled up from the far end of the parking lot, going painfully slow over speed bumps. The rig finally parked, air brakes sighed, firemen slowly lumbered off the truck. A silver-haired fireman came to me to consult, as if I were the voice of reason or in charge. I said I was a by-stander and pointed him to the car.

Later, as I stood at a distance, watching the same gray haired man administer resuscitation to pump his heart, he looked up and our eyes briefly locked in a steely, distant, surreal stare of a moment; then down again to the job at hand.

Gone. He was dead. They weren’t moving him to the ambulance. They were pumping, yes, and working it; but the ambulance sat idle, doors opened; and the tempo of the pace evened out. They were not quitting, but their diligence tampered down from a hurried hope to a disciplined cadence. The man was gone and they knew it; but they pressed on.

sunset-945379_640I got in our car and left. The drive home, the western twilight sky had a rosy glow, a serrated pattern of clouds fading pink. The dead man missed this beautiful sunset. He died next to the pancake house. Over. His poor wife. Stunned. Gone. Whimpers for a goodbye.

It was shocking to witness, and a soulful reminder to leave no loving left undone.


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