The day started out as they usually do. We were headed to the boardwalk but as we passed a house two streets from ours, I noticed a young man bent over someone on a front lawn. An elderly woman was stood over them. We stopped and asked if they needed help and she shouted, “Yes.”
I ran from the car as my husband called 911. The young man was a carpenter working on a house across the street. We learned from him later he had heard the woman’s cries for help when she came out of the house and found her husband fallen by a tree on the lawn.
The young man was on the phone talking to 911 at this point, getting instructions as he did chest compressions. Within two minutes two police vehicles arrived. The officers didn’t have a defibrillator but one took over the chest compressions. Within two minutes, the paramedics arrived with a defibrillator and started to work on the man.
As we watched helplessly, I spoke with the woman, asked her name, told her mine and learned they had no family on the island. She shared information about her husband as we both cried and looked on. Sometimes words weren’t possible. Then an officer and a paramedic needed to speak with her and I told her I would check back with her as she thanked me and went with them.
We left not knowing what happened, though the defibrillator hadn’t revived the man.
My husband and I were quiet as we drove away. We continued on to the boardwalk and as we left the car and took the familiar trail, the Blue Jays were their usual chatty selves, the squirrels approached tentatively looking for peanuts, and the shorebirds du jour looked for food along the beach. A Great Blue Heron fished in the marsh. We passed many familiar faces we see and speak with regularly and noticed some tourists enjoying the area too. And the birds still sang.
Life went on…though a man was gone and his wife’s life changed forever. So were we. We were glad to have stopped and offered assistance. We couldn’t imagine doing otherwise. However, we will not soon forget the scene or the faces of either of the two people, one whose life ended and the other whose life was so dramatically changed that day.
P.S. We have since spoken with the young man who arrived on the scene so quickly. He is to be admired for helping as he did. Not everyone would.
I have been in touch with the woman whose husband died that day and she is doing as well as can be expected. She and her husband had just returned from grocery shopping that morning.
You never know…