It's been so long since I've done one of these things that I've almost forgotten how to start them. So I'll just start it like this, if that's okay.
Last night my husband came home late from the office. Very late. 0400 late. We went into this job assignment knowing that there would be days like this, and so I didn't nag or even ask about it. My alarm went off a couple of hours later and I hustled the kids off to school, happy to help my husband sleep for a little while longer, though slightly concerned that he was not rising as early as he usually does. Once the kiddos were dropped off, I returned home to find my husband getting ready--lacing up bloodied boots.
He began, "So last night..."
Apparently he had left the office at a slightly more reasonable hour. He was waiting at a signal light that would take him to the highway when he noticed a man on a motorcycle weaving recklessly in the opposite direction. He was very obviously drunk. I wasn't there, but I can see my husband shaking his head as he swerved passed. The man wasn't wearing a helmet. He was in a sleeveless shirt and shorts.
I'll go ahead and say what everyone is thinking: What an idiot.
(But we all act like idiots sometimes. So let's move on.)
As the light changed to green, my husband turned and began to merge onto the highway, and then he saw it--an erratic light bouncing around in his rearview mirror. It took a few moments for my husband to realize that what he was seeing was the tail light of the motorcycle bouncing around in the dark. My husband turned his truck around to assist.
Upon approaching the man, my husband realized that he had lost control of his bike and crashed into a barricade on the highway. The cyclist had gone through the windshield on his bike head first into the concrete barricade. He was unresponsive, though alive. But he was not breathing.
The collision had left the man choking and suffocating on his own blood. My husband was able to take the man in his arms and help him expel the blood so he could breathe. The emergency 911 operator argued with my husband to stay on the line with her and talk until the paramedics arrived, but he had to put down the phone to support the man's bloodied head. He assured her that he knew what he was doing-that he wasn't scared-and that he would let her know when the paramedics came. About the time they arrived, the man awoke.
My husband notified the 911 operator, and drove his truck home. He came in quietly without waking me or the children and washed that man's blood out of his soaked clothes. He got a few hours of sleep. Then he woke up, put on a still slightly-bloodied pair of combat boots, kissed his wife, and went back to the office to work.
After hearing him tell me this story, I couldn't help but think what he wouldn't ever take credit for: You saved that man's life. Bigger than that, you saved that man's life and he will never know it. He might remember the paramedics. He will certainly remember the doctors and the therapists that will work to fix his broken body. But he will never know that man that saw his need, helped clear his passage ways so he could breathe, and held his maimed body in his hands until medical help arrived--the man that came home and washed blood out of his uniform--the man that went to work the next morning with bloody boots.
I tell you this
We are bombarded with the bad news. Our world is crumbling. Future generations are lazy. Politicians are evil. People are mind-numbingly ignorant.
Every so often you hear of someone doing a heroic act-something that's just as fantastic as the bad things so that it gets noticed. And we wonder if there's enough of those people to offset all the bad.
There are people every day who respond to trouble and then call the first responders. There are people every day who do good things that you will never ever hear about. Things that are even bigger and better than buying you that free cup of coffee at Starbucks. (Not to shun that; God bless those people.)
And you do big things too.
The dollar you give at the register that buys a vaccine that saves a child's life.
The spare change you give to a man you don't know that buys him food to sustain him.
The clothes that you donate into a random box that protect someone from the elements.
The genuine smile that you share with a stranger that makes him feel, if only for a moment, that he is not alone.
The kind word you say to someone that comforts and encourages him.
The prayer you send up for someone that is answered in a way that you never get to see or know. But because you asked...
And really truly, that time you fronted the money for the car behind you in the Starbuck's line that gave them liquid happiness for free.
I guess all this is to say, we can shake our heads at the "idiots" or we can help them. We can watch the world spoil or we can be salt and light.
Never grow weary of doing good.
(And if you ride motorcycles, please please please wear a helmet.)