This I Believe

Jennifer - Jacksonville, Florida
Entered on April 19, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that in death. I believe in breathing again.

I was stuck in traffic one day on my way to school and in a distance, there were a number of police lights. This wasn’t my first time seeing a car wreck so assuming that it was one, I waited patiently as everyone in traffic made its way forward. There was an ambulance and a team of paramedics assisting someone onto a stretcher. A wrecked motorcycle had blocked lanes; a policeman was directing traffic away from it. Witnesses who saw the accident stood nearby, hand to their mouths or arms around a loved one. There was no sound, no usual noise of traffic except a hushed silence as time slowed. Everyone held their breaths and the silence came over me like a shadow. My heart stopped. Something was lifted onto a stretcher: a young man, bloodied and broken. One paramedic held his head, two held his body, a third around his legs, their lips moved but no words came. No sound, only the sight of blood. And as if someone turned back the volume, traffic picked up and music resumed on the radio as soon as I left the scene.

For a minute I felt stunned. The world was doing the man an injustice for picking up the pace so quickly. He was fighting death and all I heard was a blaring car commercial. Someone honked at me to move faster, but I was only asking for moment of silence. I was shocked. Those drivers around me, how little did they know that they, too, could have lost their lives in an accident like that. Having been so close to someone facing death, it made me realize how alive I was. Then it came to me.

We are living, active beings moving with life, but might well be dead. We’re dead with the pursuit of immortality, dead for the desire of money, and dead with the obsession of perfection. Was I dead, too? Regardless of fame or fortune, I will face the same inevitable end as every dead person living.

With so much life in the world, why hold our breaths in death’s possession? I was suffocating myself, and for the first time, I loosened the chokehold around my neck that were my hands and began to breathe again. Watching the car that honked at me drive by, I prayed for his safety and I prayed for the young man who gave me my life back.