Thursday, July 17, 2008


Last week as I was coming home from work I saw a half-naked older man getting CPR in the park. You could see the tremendous effort it took the EMS guy to thump his chest, by the waves of flesh that followed every move. You could also see the effort was going to be futile. It was hard to walk by even though I knew the cops were shooing us lay folk away: not because I wanted to see what was happening, I saw plenty already. It's the girl scout in me. I don't have the strength to move the ribcage of a guy that size, but it still feels wrong somehow, to keep walking.

I know damn well we were on the methadone side of the park, and the guy spent the last decades of his life putting himself under that EMS's hands on the dirty pavers, but somehow the thought of his soul parting his body as I walked by just wrenched me into tears. On the other side, the family-and-dogs side, a short walk from the dead man and his attendants, were a group of folks under a tree, doing some kind of tai chi thing and making these laughing sounds, and at first I wanted to tell them to shut up and respect the dead. But I realized, aren't we all, always, on one side of the park or the other? The business of living well or poorly is intimately pressed against the undignified business of dying.

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