His red bicycle strewn on the road, rear light blinking into the dark. He was on the ground, face down. We direct traffic trying to keep him safe during the longest minutes while we wait for the ambulance. A passerby is kneeling next to him, his hand on his back. He keeps whispering to him that it’s going to be ok, that help is on the way. I don’t know if he is going to be ok, there’s a lot of blood on the ground.
I was walking home, it’s just around the corner. There he was, on the ground, face down. He is unresponsive. I put my hand on his back and I can tell he is still breathing. Someone is calling 911. I don’t know what to do so I just talk to him. I want him to know that he isn’t alone. Sirens break through the night, he moves his fingers slightly.
I’m on the ground, face down. His hand on my back, his voice, he is talking to me. I don’t know if I’ll remember this when I wake up. I hear the sirens. It’s going to be ok.
First responders huddle around him, police officers swarm the scene. I approach the passerby who was by his side and thank him for stopping to help. He looks at me, tears roll down his cheeks.
“We are all in this together. We are supposed to be there for each other.” his voice quivers. We hug and he disappears into the night. He is right, we are in this together. It’s going to be ok.
P.S.: (This exchanged occurred on a Friday night when we came upon an injured cyclist. I’ve been informed that although he suffered extensive injuries and has a long recovery road ahead of him, he is ok.)
This was the second time I had walked across the border between two countries. Last year I hiked into Canada from the USA while thru hiking the Appalachian Trail and the IAT . This time I was border hopping between Argentina and Chile while exploring Patagonia.
Thomas and I arrived at the chilean border crossing checkpoint after walking 5 miles from the argentine town of Los Antiguos. A friendly officer takes our passports.
“So you are from the United States of America?.” He is suddenly serious.
“I’ve been following the news about your country and your new president.”
“Umm. Ok”, we chuckle and frown a little. We are still getting used to everyone we meet making some comment about our country’s current political climate.
The border patrol officer looks at our backpacks and smiles.
“Are you refugees?”
“Not yet. But are you receiving refugees? We might have to take you up on the offer in the future.”
We smile back, he is just being funny. Passports are stamped and our new friend welcomes us into his country. He thought it was crazy to be walking into countries so he orders a car who was also crossing the border to give us a lift into the next town.
Today there are thousands of displaced humans who are crossing borders on foot, others who are waiting at camps and many who became our neighbors and live in our cities. Thousands who unlike me aren’t out on a beautiful adventure, humans who unlike me actually are refugees.
Let’s not forget about them. Let’s extend a helping hand. Let’s lift up the borders of our lives and let’s give them a chance.