I’m off work and just get ahead of a red Honda Civic of early 2000s vintage and am behind a cargo van that has a sign stating Llamas on board when I see a bunch of cars parked along Balmer Road, including a van from the Sheriff’s Department.
Odd, I say to myself. I then had to hit my brakes because that cargo van in front slowed down suddenly. What’s going on? I see several more cars parked alongside Hayford Road. A Honda Odyssey is parked off the road its nose facing toward Hayford Road and a number of people and sheriff’s deputies are around the vehicle as if looking for something. What could they be looking for?
I saw to the right of the van and some distance back a lone gurney with a covered body laying on top apparently waiting to be taken to the County’s mortuary at Deaconess Hospital. It’s apparent this once alive person is in no hurry to get to his or hers next location. Whatever troubles or worries this person experienced before today are no longer at the forefront. It kinda reminded me of a country western song I believe George Jones sang, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
As I drove on from the scene I had to wonder how and why this person came to that place to cash in his chips, a quarter mile from Northern Quest Resort and Casino. Was it suicide? Was it murder? Was it something more medically induced?
Did he or she have a spouse? Or children. Or was this person living alone in a quiet and restless melancholy? Should I be sad for this person? Or should I revel that he or she might be in a better place away from the demons that haunted him or her?
Obviously, that wasn’t the first body I ever saw. The first one was a couple of weeks after I started working as a dietary janitor at Kadlec Hospital in Richland, Washington where I once resided. I was 18 then and I had delivered a food cart filled with delicious food and was heading down the service elevator, when a door opened and there was this charming looking older man with pleasant smile, and in front of him was a gurney where a deceased person laid. Needless to say, it gave me a queer feeling having to share an elevator ride down to the first floor with this blanket covered body with Einan’s Funeral Home embroidered as the pleasant older man and the dearly departed left the elevator and I went back to the main kitchen to fetch another food cart.
I also saw my share of dearly departed friends as they laid in repose at the same named funeral home I just mentioned. I know it is a fitting way to say goodbye, but it’s not for me. I got this empty and forlorn feeling inside and it was more sadness than just saying so long to an old friend. One wasn’t even old, but quite young. He was shot by his girlfriend.
The story as she told it, they had a bit of a fight and he broke into her apartment and she shot him in self-defense. The police apparently believed her and she was never accused of any crime.
Then of course the day I saw Mom. We had to go and see her following the meeting with her pastor. As I mentioned in previous posts, she was killed in a head on collision back in 2009. To this day it’s still hard to write this, but when I saw her laying there in a cardboard container at the crematorium where she would eventually be cremated, I had the impression that she was merely asleep as we walked up to her still form. The shock brought instant sadness and grief to me and I cried out to her. We all reacted with tears, sobs and hugs. I saw her face. Aside from a superficial cut and bruise to her cheek she looked fine. Her eyes were sewn shut because she requested her eyes be donated.
It is hard to see a dead person and maybe it is because we chose to live a superficial and sanitized environment where we don’t see dead people as readily as we used to some 80 to 100 plus years ago. With this pandemic, maybe we have turned full circle and realized our own mortality for what it is, a natural evolution of life we must someday experience just as that person did today.