“Michelle, they are waiting,” a familiar voice drifted into her consciousness. Michelle, a young woman just distanced from her last teen year by only a few months, remained crouched down as if she were showing God that she had been defeated. Her long, unbuttoned coat hung open and wisps of damp, brown hair fell onto her face as she leaned further forward, her gloved hands defiantly holding on to him. She was still living in the middle of furiously flying ice and glass, wanting that moment to have passed, to never have happened. She felt as if her ordinary life had hit the brakes, as if fate had crashed into her.
Michelle’s friend, Paula, tried again, gently, “Michelle, you need to let them take him now.” As she spoke, Paula could feel the edges of cold little razors challenging her face. She pulled up the hood of her insulated jacket, gently tying it beneath her chin with gloved hands. Her narrow face captured the chaotic reflections of pulsing red flashes and high-intensity truck lights. It was New Year’s Eve, and the wildly dancing snow seemed to be celebrating. It sparkled with life in the heavy night. The temperature had already dropped into the high twenties, and people who formed the little crowd in the drama that had just played out on the busy street corner were disheveled and shivering. Amidst the carnage, Michelle remained motionless, seemingly unaware of the figures, ambulances, and tow trucks surrounding her. Her emotions cemented her hands to the body.
“Come on, Sweetie.” Paula tried physically to remove Michelle’s hands, but Michelle would not let go of the body. Paula bent over her friend and attempted to make eye contact. She could not tell if the wet streaks on Michelle’s cheeks were melted snow or tears. Keeping one hand on Michelle’s shoulder, Paula stood back up and looked helplessly at the nearby police officer, one of three who were taking statements for what promised to be a massive report.
“Let her have a few minutes longer,” the kind cop offered, adding, “People react how they react in times like this. I’ve seen this before.” The tallish officer gave Paula a weak smile. Then, like shadows in the background, they quietly commented back and forth about the unfolding situation before stepping slightly back and becoming more animated in their discussion as the minutes dragged on.
After almost another fifteen minutes, Paula again appealed to her friend, this time using Michelle’s pet name for the object of her affection—and loss. “Michelle, you know that Blue will be an organ donor. He’s gone, Sweetie, but just think of it, his parts can save others like him. Please let go.” It may have been Paula’s words or the fact that Michelle was getting too chilled to hang on, but she released her grip, letting the smooth, cool steel slip from her fingers.
While Paula and the policeman helped Michelle to her feet, the tow truck positioned itself to load up her totaled Subaru Forester.