When I think of death, I think of living people - people practicing rituals, people lost in memories, people thinking about their own death. That is to say, I can only think of death in terms of things I'm familiar with. I cannot conceive of death as something beyond anything I've experienced.
I don't know why I am writing this.
This is a story. No, this is a blog post that tells a story.
Health experts say that many of us have developed hunched figures from sitting at the computer all day reading blog posts. But I believe that I am different, that my hunched figure comes from carrying the burden of the world on my shoulders. But only the part of the world I'm familiar with: the area I grew up in, places I've lived or traveled through. Texas is not on my shoulders. I've never been to Texas. The place I live in is owned by someone who once lived in Texas. Because my mailing address is in Texas he believes we two have a connection, so he tells me stories about his time in Texas - though he is not very good at telling stories.
So this is a Texas blog post, because I am not very good at telling stories.
No, this is an autobiography - of what I experienced last week. When I saw that dead body in the street. It was a fresh dead body. The ambulance had just come screaming down the street. A paramedic kneeled over the body, first just looking at it. Blood streamed from the head, a pool of blood between the legs. The long black hair had somehow managed to arrange itself rather neatly. But most striking was that left leg - completely twisted inward, with the toes touching the right heel. Oddly, none of us in the small crowd of onlookers took a selfie.
Then the paramedic put his fingers near the nostrils and on the neck, apparently checking for breath and pulse. There was no sense of urgency, nothing to be done. Finally he pulled his head backward and looked above,
I'd never seen a freshly dead human body before, so I struggled to place this event within the catalog of The Things I've Experienced. Once, in an intimate moment, when feeling as close to another person as I have ever felt, that person told me she recalled seeing dead bodies lying on the street while walking to grade school in Vietnam.
Was this the body of the person who pushed me on this same street a few days ago? Talking loudly to herself, hunched over from the burden of her thoughts, she charged through pushing aside any pedestrian that randomly crossed into her world. It was the first time in years that anyone had broken through the wall of isolation around my body. In that intimate moment, I wondered: could her random walk be a way of breaking through her own wall of isolation? Is this the body that I briefly experienced intimately? I believe we two have a connection.
I searched the news for the story of this body, but found none. I only found that the street where her body lay is under redevelopment, business in the district will be revived, and it will have a new look in the future. Luxury condos will soon be available there, in the high-rise building where construction scaffolding fell off, killing two people on the street below.
I found that on a street in another area a person being treated for depression pulled out a gun, shot twice in the air, then fired a shot into his own head. I have been depressed, and I have traveled through that area.
I also found that on a street in a different area a person was riding a bike when a truck crashed into her and dragged her body under its wheels. I have been hit by cars while riding a bike on a street. But I have never traveled through that area. And being dragged under a truck's wheels is the last thing I want to experience. No, that's not true. Although it may indeed be the last thing I experience,
So I know nothing about the dead body, just as I know nothing about death. I don't know why I am writing this. It is just an experience.