My first instinct was to keep driving. It was not to stop. Thinking back, we should not have even been there. Someone disagreed.
We stayed in the city the night before. As soon as we had gotten dinner and unloaded our bags that evening, we learned that we really didn’t need to stay and could have gone home. Though we would have rather gone home, it was already late evening and we decided just to stay until the morning. It was a cool night; I slept in my clothes – the clothes I had hugged my friend in, kissed my boyfriend goodbye in, spent the day wearing on the plane, I slept in. Then I wore them the next day.
We woke up – not to alarms, but to each other. It was fairly early. We were jonesing to get home; however, we also appreciated coffee and baked goods. We stopped at a bakery for coffee and breakfast. Though we wanted to get on the road, we just sat there talking for longer than we needed. Maybe because it was Sunday morning, maybe because we were still waking up. Maybe just because. We just were.
We got back in the truck and headed down the road. It was drizzling on and off and our luggage was in the bed of the truck under a tarp. The tarp wasn’t held down too well, so when we got out of town, we stopped and Keziah rounded up some large rocks from the side of the road. She anchored down the tarp better. The rocks, however, had been in a bed of mud due to the previous days’ rains, so Kezia’s feet and flip flops were covered in mud. She didn’t mind.
We traveled along the coast, though it wasn’t very accessible initially. Further along, there was a place to stop. We pulled off primarily so that Keziah could wash off her feet and sandals, but we all got out. How could we not? It was the ocean. Caribbean blue, warm – the cringe you did prior to the water hitting your feet was unnecessary – the water was comfortable and warm and refreshing. We all just kind of stood there for awhile. We talked a little bit, but mostly just ambled and looked and were. Kathy picked up several rocks for art projects; that was her being. Eventually we made our way back into the truck and onto the road. We were at peace, I think.
We drove through a town and there were at least twenty-ish men, in their late teens to early 20s, working on a wall. They were making a mosaic. Our driver, Kathy, is an artist; all art is art. She was awed. She wanted to stop. She stopped; she and Keziah got out and went to look and talk. She was just being. In the truck, Grace, Katie and I were letting her…
Back in the truck. Back on the road. Home stretch.
Traffic was on and off. Cars and trucks and motorcycles. Some areas were good for passing; others required we just sit back and wait; so we did. There were people walking by the side of the road on and off; mostly small groups of people. There was a larger group, so Kathy slowed down. I guess in her slowing we all perked up, maybe? I looked ahead and remember seeing something dark brown/black and orange in the ditch. It didn’t register completely, but maybe I didn’t want it to. Then there were bushes so I couldn’t see it anymore. Then there were lots of people. Then they were flagging us down. Then there was a bus in the ditch. Then there was mud and water surrounding it. Then there were people around it. Then Kathy asked if we should stop. Then Grace said yes. Then there were people in the bus. Then we were out of the truck. Then there were people coming up the ditch. Then Grace and Keziah were going down the ditch. Then there was mud. Then there were people bleeding. Then there was screaming (but, actually, the screaming began before I saw orange and black in the ditch). Then we were looking for Grace’s boots. Then I handed them to a guy. Then Grace yelled at me. Then I didn’t know what to do. Then I checked if I had anything. Then people were bleeding but clotting and sitting in what seemed like safe spots. Then I didn’t have anything else to offer them. Then I took my flip-flops off. Green flip flops. Then I climbed in the back of the truck. Then I scrambled to pull the tarp off. Then I found my luggage. Then I scrambled through it. Then there was a stethoscope. Then Kathy came to turn the truck around. Then some people placed a girl in the back seat of the truck. Then the girl looked okay. Then I saw her leg was hanging off – her left leg was hanging by some muscle fibers and tendons. Then there was bleeding. Then blood. Then red. Then beautiful skin. Then healthy blood. Then torn leg. Then…
Blood pressure cuff. Blood pressure cuff!!!! Found it with the truck turning around and falling over. Jumped out. Jumped in. Put it on; told her my name. She didn’t understand me; I didn’t understand her. I just squeezed the cuff tight; no more blood. She was uncomfortable. Kathy was yelling. I got out – told her I’d go, too; it was okay. It wasn’t, though. Four more people ended up being placed in the box of the truck and one was put up front in the passenger’s seat. There were still more. We left.
Kathy prayed. I held the girl’s hand. I don’t remember her name. I am 99% sure that I asked her, but I don’t remember; definitely don’t remember the answer. Kathy started praying. Not a gentle prayer, a guttural prayer. Not a violent prayer, a helpless prayer. Not a mad prayer, a help prayer. The man in the back was singing. I thought about praying – I threw one up. I held her leg; tried not to focus on the discomfort of my leg cramping up under her weight. Swept my hand over her forehead; she was 20ish – a woman but a baby, too. I just stroked her forehead. Told her it would be okay. I didn’t know, though. She was breathing okay; her lungs were clear; her heart was fast but good. She was oriented – knew her phone number and what was going on, even though she was in shock. Her pulse was good in her other foot. She wasn’t bleeding anymore. I needed to do something else. I needed to DO something else until we got to the hospital that we didn’t know where it was. I prayed something again; pretty sure she prayed, too. The man in the back was still singing.
Grace’s phone. I called a couple of numbers I knew. No one answered. “Okay, God – you’re here, this is You even if I try to ignore it. It’s all in Your court. Bleh!!!!!!” God reached down; actually, He just made his presence tactile. The phone rang – my friend, Mike – not who I had called, but who I needed more than anything. “Please pray. Please find me the hospital. Please just know this is happening.” No luck on the hospital. They prayed.
Her family couldn’t answer; her phone number didn’t work. Her phone number didn’t work. Her phone number didn’t work. Her family couldn’t answer.
A boy was on the side of the road. He saw the girl’s leg. He got in to help us get to the hospital. We got there. Relief.
One guy came out. Asked me what had happened. I told him; he shook his head knowingly. He went back in the hospital. Everyone was still in the truck except Kathy and me. He asked if we could help. Everyone else standing there just watched. Why were they just watching? We got her out. Kathy was going to collapse; I sat her down, but then no one else came out, so she got up again. We got the other lady out; there was a pool of blood at her feet. Why hadn’t I paid attention to that on the way? We took her in; they wanted her on the floor. We put her on the gurney. Still just the one man and Kathy and myself. A lady was getting herself out of the back of the truck – it was high; I had her sit on my shoulder; I yelled at a guy standing there who made eye contact with me to help me; my eyes were pleading. He was Jesus to me; he helped me. Another lady climbed out herself; we got her a wheelchair. Another lady came out the side of the box; again, I was her step but Kathy was there, too. She went inside. Then there was the singing man. Still singing. I found a towel, got in the truck with the orderly guy or doctor or whoever he was; Kathy was on the ground. Lifted the guy out; both his legs were broken below his knees; splayed out to either side. Lifted his legs with the towel. He kept singing; moaned; sang; moaned; sang. Everyone was out of the truck. Everyone was in the hospital. Kathy was getting in the truck. I got in the truck. We backed out. We were headed back. I didn’t want to head back. I wanted it to be over. I wanted it to done.
Phone rang. It was done. Everyone had been taken to a hospital. There was nothing more for us to do there. Grace and Keziah and Katie had left the scene. “Come home.”
Where were those three? I was worried for them, but I don’t know if I prayed for them right then. I was worried for them, but glad I wasn’t where they were if they were still with the victims. I was selfish. I wanted to go get them to get them out of there, but I didn’t want to switch places with them. I would; I knew I would, but I didn’t want to. I wish I wanted to.
That’s all I knew right then. That’s what I experienced that day to that point. We picked them up. We went home. We did stuff. We were paralyzed. Still are. Still am.
That was my Sunday two weeks ago.
I know more now. I know what Keziah and Grace and Katie saw. I know what Keziah and Grace and Katie and Kathy felt. I know what kind of hospital I left the girl at. I know more. I’ve never understood. Now I understand less.
That was intense? That was crazy? That was that?
God is good.
How can both of those be? How can I be? I want to just be. I am. I am. He is. I am. He IS.