Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Not a good week

I've been wondering whether this is what a blog is for; but then, as it's my blog, I suppose it can be for anything I like. So here goes.

Driving back from Heathrow, nearly home after our cruise (of which more another time), I knocked over a cyclist. She appeared from nowhere, I wasn't driving fast, neither John nor I saw her (and I always give cyclists a very wide berth). The first we knew of it was a terrible crunch, and the sight of someone flying through the air. For the next ten sconds ( dashing out of the car, running back to where she was lying)I thought I had killed her. And in those few seconds, I knew - just knew - that if that were the case, I couldn't live with myself. Not ever again.

But she was alive. Lying in a crumpled heap in the wreck of her bicycle, she was conscious, not in pain, and so, so nice. I sat beside her, holding the bike frame away from her legs, and apologised and apologised, and she just kept on saying that these things happen, and tomorrow would be another day, and it was in the past now (whether she still feels like that now, I don't  know. I wouldn't blame her if she was now feeling pretty angry). Mercifully, she was later discharged with a few cuts and burises, but before we parted, we hugged each other ("an  interesing way to make new friends," observed the paramedic). The police were kindness itself, as were the paramedics. But it was one of the worst experiences of my life.

Then this morning, I received a letter from my death row inmate. Usually I can deal with these, but this was so heartbreaking as to be unbearable. He is lonely and hungry all the time; not allowed access to a library (he longs for books); and he wants to die. He ends his letter thus: "I think I'm going to die soon so I've been looking at the sky and the sun one last time. Life is beautful, my friend. I can't believe people take it for granted".

I read his letter, and wept.

30 comments:

  1. What a terrible thing to happen; both to the cyclist, and yourself. Thank goodness she's OK.

    As for your death row friend, I cannot help wondering if his victim(s) were given the same advice before he killed them. Sorry, but that's how I feel.

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    1. Thank you, CM. As for my death row friend, I don't even know whether he murdered anyone. Manay of them are later proved innocent. But I do believe everyone should be allowed the chance for redemption, although of course they must be punished.

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  2. What an awful week, Frances, but it sounds as if it truly was one of these unforeseeable and random accidents. Though I'm sure that won't make you feel any better about it. The letter is so sad - no matter what he is guilty of, he no doubt has had terrible days in which to suffer for his past.

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    1. Thank you, Rosemary. As for my friend, he's had twelve years (and counting) in solitary, and his suffering is beyond comprehension.

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  3. That must have been a terrible shock to you both and the cyclist of course. I don't imagine I'd be very nice to anyone who knocked me off my bike - hope I don't find out.

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    1. No, don't find out, Patsy. It's absolutely horrible. I've sent flowers to the cyclist, and just hope she's recovering well.

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  4. What an awful moment - when you didn't know if the cyclist was okay. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about. Not a happy return home for you Francis.

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    1. Thank you, Maggie. You're quite right.

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  5. Hey, Frances loosen up. You must have known from your medic days that she was fine. If they are talking or shouting there is no problem other than the obvious like red stuff spaying your jeans. You have to lean on the source of that.
    Okay it was a shock to you as it would be to anyone normal but these things happen. The paperwork can last months.
    Forget it, the cyclist is fine but did she have the wherewithal to pay for the damage to your Range Rover. You could have a Nissan Micra for all I know but Range Rover sits better in my mind.

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    1. Honestly. Adrian, I'm insulted that you should think I drive a RR. You'll be imagining personalised number plates next.

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  6. Oh, Frances, I do feel for you - and the cyclist. I can only say if I was going to ever be knocked off my bike, I would hope it was by someone as kind as you. I'm so glad the cyclist was okay, but can imagine how you felt before you got to her x

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    1. You're very sweet, Teresa. Thank you.

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  7. What a terrible shock, that accident with the cyclist. I'm so glad (for both of you) that she was not more seriously injured.

    After any traumatic event one often also gets extra vulnerable emotionally and less capable than usual to deal with more bad/sad news on top of the first. I hope you get time to catch up with yourself.

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    1. Thank you, DT. I think I'm getting there slowly.

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  8. Frances, what a rough ending to your vacation buzz. I was rear-ended last week (hardly felt a thing but car may be totaled). It is weird, I felt so bad for the young man who hit us.
    I'm glad your cyclist was not too broken. It's only human to imagine the worst.
    Give yourself some time to get past the trauma and rush of adrenaline/emotions.

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    1. Thank you, ER. I'm sorry about your accident, and hope you're ok?

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  9. I feel for you Frances. About 10 years ago a cyclist came from nowhere and ended up on the road in front/side of my car…..luckily I was doing about 2 miles an hour inching out to turn right onto the main road from a side street. It was such a shock to see her on the ground, and I had no idea where she had come from…it turned out that she had come up behind me..on the right ( one way street) and was trying to pull out in front of me, to also turn right…I was looking to the left checking for a gap in traffic as the car on m y right had stopped for me…...it was entirely her fault, but it really put me off driving for months. She just had a bruise on her shin I think where her bike fell on her.Police and ambulance were called and I felt terrified! Try not to think about your cyclist…it was probably her fault anyway!! Hope to hear about your cruise soon.

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    1. I think it ust have been my fault, Frances, as it was a straight road. But I'll never know what really happened. I too feel reluctant to drive. Cars really are killing machines, aren't they.

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  10. I sympathise, Frances. A few years ago, I knocked a motor-cyclist down - he came out of nowhere - and shall never forget the sight of him flying through the air. It felt as if I were watching it happen to someone else, which I suppose was my way of trying to stay calm. Also, I had my youngest daughter with me and needed to think about her, rather than the accident. I almost had to disassociate myself from it. Even while the police and ambulance were there with lights flashing and the traffic all jammed, I was like stone. I think I just blocked all my emotions. But I felt like jelly the next day and was so completely relieved and glad to know the man survived his injuries and also felt no anger or resentment towards me.

    It's a horrible experience for you, but it is still an accident and I came to terms with it by reminding myself that no one was to blame and daily life on the roads carries an inherent risk that we all take.

    I'm very glad your cyclist was so nice and also relatively unharmed and understand how you feel about it. You have probably suffered just as much as she has, but take heart from the fact that she was fine and had no hard feelings.

    I'm glad you're safely home from your cruise and look forward to hearing about it. xx

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    1. Joanna, thanks. You described how I felt exactly. But she's ok, and that's really all that matters.

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  11. The incompatibility of cars and cyclists using the same roads is the main reason why I have given away my bike some years ago; it is just too scary to be out there with so many cars. When I walk along the road or stand at a red traffic light, I often observe cyclists doing really stupid things, and it is a wonder that not a lot more of them are killed or injured on the roads. And of course, I also observe car drivers doing daft things and not pay attention to what they should be paying attention to.
    The way this accident affected you only goes to show that you are not as thoughtless and "me first" as many drivers appear.

    As for your death row inmate, I just don't see the point why he is not allowed books. His words about the sky and the sun and life being beautiful are so true, and very touching. I can see the point Cro Magnon makes in his comment, but also agree with Rosemary about him having suffered for what he has done. It is a very difficult topic, and leaves me torn between the kind of "serves him right" part of me, the "retribution instinct" of Old Testament quality, and my more compassionate "live and let live" side. Impossible to solve.

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    1. I feel the same about cars and bikes, Meike, especially as one of my sons is a very serious cyclist. Cyclists are so vlunerable.

      As for the suffering of my inmate, I prefer the techings of the New Testament; forgiveness, and a chance for redemption, He has received neither. His punishment is extreme, and ongoing. I am the only person he has, and we've never even met.

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  12. I feel for you Frances, I really do. I, too, join those who are so pleased that she escaped relatively unscathed. I hope, too that you don't dwell on it too much. After all you cannot undo the past. As for not seeing her could it be that she appeared in the blank spot of your car's A-pillar. That blind spot on my cars (both are very bad for that) constantly concerns me.

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    1. That's a good point, GB. I just wish I knew how we failed to see her - both of us. I'm also puzzled that collisoin wiht a cyclist can do well over £2000 worth of damage to a car, and not hurt a vulnerable human being. But thank goodness it was that way round.

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    2. Excuse typos. I'm still not at my best.

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  13. Oh Frances - knocking someone over is what we all dread but can so easily happen. Last week I stepped off the kerb as I passed someone and as I did so, a car knocked me. My fault entirely. The elderly woman driver was so concerned and I spent ages reassuring her it was not her fault.

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    1. It's always been my nightmare, Wendy. I'm glad you survived your accident.

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  14. Frances, I've nominated you for the versatile blogger award. No pressure if you don't fancy it.

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    1. Thank you, Patsy. You're very kinde.

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