The eggs in front of me are scrambled. The bacon is crispy, just the way I like it. A sift of steam trails above my coffee mug, and a medley of fresh fruit sits deliciously pretty in a quaint bowl, like a perfect still life waiting to be captured on canvas. I should be eating; should be feeding myself as I prepare for a busy lunch shift in the bar today. But all I can do is stab at my melon with a fork, and crumple my bacon into tiny pieces—unable to expel this morning’s image out of mind.
Earlier this morning, the ruca and I were driving to work down 3rd Street. It’s a route that brings you from the industrial streets of Bay View to the monumental ballpark, then into downtown where clusters of shiny polished skyscrapers pop up dramatically, like rifles raised at the sky. Stopping at a red light, I was suddenly stunned by a growing crowd gathered in the street, a pale panic glazed across their eyes. Behind them, a car had flipped over, was literally upside down, with a white puff of airbag enveloping someone inside the vehicle. A lady, or rather a Good Samaritan, was trying frantically to find a way to pull the person out, even though the top of the car had nearly crushed flat into the pavement. It looked as if the driver was going too fast down the busy one-way, lost control, and flipped over. There was no way even the most determined strength of manpower could get someone out of that rubble. If the person were still alive, they would have to await their fate at the Jaws of Life.
People had come out of the neighboring buildings, stopping to point, waiting for the deafening wail of sirens to drone out the monotone slur of the city. Even as the light turned green and the hesitant pack of cars inched forward unsurely, at a notably slower speed, the sinking feeling seemed to remain. How could we go about our day now, knowing someone’s body was literally crushed beneath tons of metal with daggered shards of glass stabbing into them?
It was an ordinary Wednesday morning, like any other Wednesday. I usually work an afternoon lunch shift this day and drive in with the ruca, glad that we later will enjoy a weeknight off. Leo is always a pest in the morning, impatiently waiting his feeding time, and those last few minutes of scrambling out the door have been known to get frantic. Leaving the house today was a smooth transition. We sang along to 80s pop on Pandora, left at the perfect time window, and glided smoothly in and out of rush-hour traffic without hitting any potholes or cussing anyone out for cutting us off. No major mishaps today. It was just another Wednesday morning, a handful of many, and yet on this particular start of the day, someone’s entire existence was radically altered: their life was either lost completely, its soul evaporating into that unknown place where souls trail off to (if at all), or that person will survive only to endure in a decrepit shell of a body. Either way, their life will never quite be the same, both emotionally and physically. (And here I thought the most unusual part of my morning was that leaving the house on time seemed so effortless!)
It felt almost selfish of me to be so full of life in a healthy body, able to feel the coolness of the morning drizzle slowly melt away, able to walk effortlessly through the bustle of the kitchen and into the dining room where I have prepared my untouched meal in peace. How lucky I am. How fortunate I am that the world is at my fingertips. I almost feel guilty for such fortune, but why? I was not the one driving like a maniac. I was not the one driving recklessly and spun my car out of control. Still, it could happen to anyone, even me. I could feel the compassion for this shattered life bleeding inside me, the gush of grief flowing through my veins.
Finally, I listen to the other voice in my head, telling the other ravaging thoughts in my head to shut up for just a moment so it can say what it wants to in peace. I bow my head somberly, above my breakfast plate. Let my mind rest and go dark like a blanket of sleep covering my busy brain until all that is left is my core; a crescendo of sympathies and hopes, its stringing lullaby reserved only for my mind to recall, and the electric waves that manifest the magic of the universe.
When I open my eyes, I have drifted back, stirring gently as if waking up. I could’ve been meditating high above cliffs overlooking the ocean, or lying lazily in a hammock surrounded in fields of poppies. Instead, I am sitting in the back booths, on table 95 to be exact, staring at my plate of breakfast and creamed coffee with a dusted wisp of canela.
I am lucky to be whole. To feel the radiance of my soul beating like a thousand bongo drums inside me. When it is my time to go, I hope others will realize that their simple and complex breaths of life are truly precious, and to live fully—exultantly—in a world that we are lucky enough to pass through in merely a blink of time.
I let myself nourish my body, guilt free, and eat…finally. I do not even care that my coffee has nearly turned cold, and my soggy eggs have began to ooze. To me, it is a perfect breakfast on a lovely Wednesday morning.
© Sarah C. Jimenez 2011, All Rights Reserved