A few years ago, I was driving to work on the busy interstate the week before Christmas. My mind was preoccupied with memories, Christmas wish lists, and money worries among other things. I began to slow down a bit as I noticed movement on the bridge up ahead. It all happened in a matter of seconds. A woman, without hesitation, climbed over the side and jumped off the bridge, landing in front of my car, unconscious like a limp doll!
I swerved, screaming, and steered the car onto the side of the road and began jogging back to the nightmare that had just unfolded right in front of me! A small group had already gathered around her and I was surprised to see that the woman had already re-gained consciousness. She was trying to fight us to get up. Dazed sorrow etched on her face. I tried to soothe her, telling her that help was coming and that she was hurt. I asked her if there was any phone numbers I could take down and call for her but she said she did not have anybody.
The paramedics and officers arrived. They could not believe this woman was not run over during rush hour traffic and kept saying it. They allowed her to sit up as they examined her injured leg and face. Later, I learned that she miraculously, was going to be just fine.
As I was standing with the only other witness that cared enough to stay, a kind sweet faced lady on the way to pick up her daughter, we began talking of what we saw. She did not see the woman jump like I did, only something in the road. As I was trying to swerve, slow down and pull over she was trying to stop traffic that just kept driving around the woman and blowing the horn. It was astounding how many just drove by blowing the horn and kept going!
On the morning of Christmas eve, unable to shake the horrible images of a few days earlier, my husband and I took our 3 kids to eat a late breakfast. I mentioned that there was an elderly man eating alone and how sad that was at Christmas when the place was full of families. My daughter could not even enjoy her food because of it and wanted to go over and ask him to join us but was very shy about such things. My husband and I wanted to as well but we made excuses that he probably had a house full of family and wanted some time alone to enjoy his paper.
With a determined look, she went over to the man, wished him a Merry Christmas, and told him there was plenty of room at our table. He joyfully accepted and for the next hour we were all entertained with intriguing stories of this gentleman’s life. He introduced himself as Mr. O’Neal, the 84-year-old Black Irishman. He insisted that he pay for our meal but my husband had gladly already paid for his. We all left the restaurant that morning feeling happy and blessed. I can still see his big bright smile.
These events got me to thinking about how we live our lives. Do we stop our hectic pace and self-absorbency and help those in need or do we just drive by and blow the horn? Do we go the extra mile to bring a smile to someone’s face or do we make excuses to ease our conscious so we feel better about not going out of our comfort zone?
We are told to love your neighbor as yourself, however, our selfish nature tends to fight with that kind of selfless love. Ever since that Christmas, my prayer changed. My desire is that I allow God to continue to use me to bless those around me. I pray that my children will continue to live out a life of serving by being kind and loving others and that my husband and I can be an example of that love.
Who knows? Maybe if we step up and go that extra mile there will be more people who don’t feel so empty and alone enough to jump off a bridge and instead end up sharing stories over a meal with new friends.