I’ve been reflecting on so many things lately. How things used to be, how things should be, what I’d like things to be. All out the window. Nothing is the same, so much no longer matters. It’s all about being healthy and safe and strong. Crossing the street to be away from another person. Waving at that person. What used to be rude is no longer rude. Stay away!
Yesterday, on our walk around the neighborhood, John and I were almost home, almost to our street and talking, wondering where a certain property line was, a line where a homeowner, perhaps the husband of the girl who used to know our daughter, was working on something next to his house. Why not? The shut-down has a lot of people working on put-off tasks.
Speculating, wondering, not that it mattered much. Chatter as we marched along towards the steps that would take us to our street. Companionable.
Wet, wooden steps—we’ve had a lot of rain lately, and even on our walk, the sky had been spitting at us. So? What’s a little rain? We had to get out of the house, walk, feel the optimism of fresh air and bird calls. Inhale the scent of new leaves and flowers.
I saw him tip over, and I knew he could do nothing but fall. There was nothing to grab, and he was going, going. He was too far ahead for me to catch, but he’s bigger than I am. I couldn’t have helped. Maybe I would have made it worse. He went down on those wooden steps, me shouting, John! John! And he’s down, scrunched between the steps and a utility pole, his hat and phone partway down the bank to the street. I’m kneeling next to him. John!
And then there’s this man. The homeowner from across the street.
“Are you all right?”
Can John get up? He has a trick knee. He’s not sure. I’m behind him. I can’t do anything except push. What would that do?
I ask the man if he can help. He’s there. Strong-looking. He’s there, but he hesitates.
Then he reaches forward, his maroon sleeve pulled over his hand, and we remember. The virus. How could we forget?
“No, no,” John and I are both saying. “We don’t want to make you sick.”
“I’m more worried about you than me,” he says.
And John figures out how to backtrack onto a step, how to get up. I retrieve his hat and phone which I drop again before he picks it up, himself. Takes his hat.
We thank the man. It occurs to me to ask if he is the husband of the girl we used to know, but I can’t think about extending this moment. Later!
John makes it the rest of the way to the street, I skirt the steps to the same level, and we again thank the Good Samaritan before heading on up the street.
“What happened?” I ask.
“I slipped. I put one foot down on the top step, and I slipped.”
“We aren’t using those steps again,” I proclaim. “I never liked them.”
We go up the hill. I’m crying. He’s passive.
He could have hit his head on that pole, broken his leg, his arm, his neck. He’s fine.
“How come,” I ask, “you’re the one who fell, and I’m the one crying?”
“I’m wondering that, myself.”
But we’re okay. Shaken but okay.
The man across the street—we gave him a good scare. He’ll know us when he sees again, that’s for sure. Maybe we’ll ask him if he’s the husband or that former acquaintance.
So—reflections on this and on that. The past and the future don’t change the now, the new, the just-experienced. I can reflect all I want, but when I see my husband go down like that and a stranger come forward, being there, just being there, that’s what matters.
I thank the hero in the maroon shirt.