I had one of those nightmares lately where you wake up and will yourself to stay awake long enough to create the needed distance to eventually slip into a more peaceful sleep. It didn’t happen. I was up for hours. The dream was related to a tragic accident that affected some friends of mine combined with a few recent discussions I’ve had with Virginia about kindness.
A few weeks ago, the husband of one of my best friends was part of a large group of bicyclists out for a weekend ride. He was not hurt, but the group was involved in a horrific accident. From what I’ve read in the news, a couple of the cyclists at the front of the pack got tangled up and crashed. One of the riders behind swerved and landed in the path of a truck, which hit him. He died at the scene. My friend’s husband posted that all he could do was keep his hand on the cyclist as he lay dying so that the man wasn’t alone. It’s awful and deeply sad. The guy was a husband, father, and educator, loved and missed by many. And he’s gone. Just like that.
But I was also moved by how generous and caring my friend’s husband was, as he stayed with the cyclist, keeping his hand on him—a simple physical gesture to help the man feel less alone in his last moments. And when I found out about the accident, it coincided with some conversations that Virginia and I have had about the importance of kindness. “Kindness” and “caring” are terms we often throw around with a level of casualness I now don’t think they deserve. They are qualities with weight and imply our responsibility and inherent respect for other beings. And sometimes it takes great strength to extend the type of kindness that my friend’s husband did for that man.
And so in my dream, it was my turn to extend that act of caring for a gravely injured man, who lay in the road bleeding and broken after being hit by a car. I flagged and screamed for traffic to come to a stop. I woke up before I could find out whether I had the fortitude to help him. I hope so, but in reality, I don’t know. I understand it was only a dream, but what do you do when you can’t do anything?
Some people just seem to know the right thing to do and say in difficult situations, but I am not one of those people. And I admire anyone, like my friend’s husband, who is. I guess the right answer is always to reach out, even if I have nothing beyond, “I’m sorry.”