the value of a bead

January 27, 2013 at 8:47 am Leave a comment

my talk of gasparilla is always of the run. it’s the best part. what gasparilla really means in my world. but there’s far more. street parades, an art fest, music and more. a city’s history and celebration of the mystical pirate jose gaspar.

yesterday was the big event. a mock pirate invasion as gaspar and his crew overtake the city. boats and beads and bootie. over the years this event has turned into quite the drunken street fest. picture jack sparrow meets mardi gras. it’s a fun time … if you’re a 20-something year old party type. but the NYC girl and i have found a way to still enjoy the fun but on a we’re-too-old-for-that-crap level. prior to the street parade, there’s a boat invasion and the boats all come down the channel that runs along our island, and directly in front of her house. so yesterday was our third annual boat invasion party. up and down the channel they run. throwing beads. taunting those on land as some throw water balloons and beads back. we drink, we eat, we celebrate a pirate’s life.

after the boat parade a few of us decided to walk down to the parade. every year i say i’m not going to yet every year i seem to find myself agreeing to with those that do. it was a small group this year. just me, harry (formerly known as the euro), the governor, her husband and their two little girls. we were a little leery at first. that kind of chaos is a bit overwhelming and having the girls there seemed weird but we eventually found a great spot. the girls were right up along the parade barrier where the governor stood watch and the guys and i sat back just enjoying the insanity.

we had been there for about 30 minutes when i started to notice some commotion on the parade route right in front of us. i heard talk of a seizure and a fallen woman but i wasn’t sure of the extent. i could see paramedics, parade police and more but i couldn’t process the situation. not long after i heard the governor tell the girls to get back. she handed them to me one by one and i sat them on the stone wall behind us. i had no idea of the scene they had witnessed but i could tell they were scared and upset. my focus quickly became them. “she’s ok” i kept repeating. “look at all those doctors with her. and look right behind us on the island … that building right there is the hospital.” they talked of shaking and blood from her head. and i told stories of my brothers three cracked skulls and stitches and how he’s fine and happy.

once i had them settled, i tried to see what i couldn’t. i bent down and found myself looking directly into her eyes. she was probably my age or a little younger. beautiful. and she was staring straight at me. and there was nothing. no movement, no eye flicker. nothing. i saw the looks on the paramedics faces. i saw the blood flowing next to her head. and i remember looking up at harry and saying “she’s dead. i think she’d dead”. all around us people screamed … for beads. all around her the parade went on. a hospital not a quarter-mile from us and i heard no attempt to stop the fun and let an ambulance through. i turned to the water and stared into nothing as i could feel the tears start streaming down my face. i didn’t want the girls to see me shaken. i had promised them she was ok and i couldn’t keep that promise. a few minutes later i heard harry say she was talking. her eyes were moving. she’s not ok. but she’s alive. i tried to find relief but i only found myself more upset. why wasn’t she on the way to the hospital. why were they just directing parade traffic around her body. why were people still screaming for beads instead of worrying about her.

we left then. we had to. for the girls. for all of us. there was no enjoyment left in our day. i carried the little one and tried to believe my own lies that the girl was already at the hospital and she was just fine. i’ll likely never know. but i hope i wan’t all lies. i hope she is ok. but regardless yesterday i lost a little faith in humanity. lost belief in the goodness of the human race. are we that cold and uncaring that a 5 cent string of beads holds more value that a human life? later that evening harry tried to rationalize it for me. people get caught up in things. they were drinking. the situation seemed surreal. most probably even had no idea it was going on. it helped, a little. i know it was out of place and a small part of the huge event around us. but i’m not sure i’ll ever be able to forget the emptiness i saw in her eyes staring back at me through the crowd.

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Entry filed under: fear, injury, life. Tags: , , , .

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