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I saw that face again Tuesday, you know the one. The face, of a fellow human being, that had just witnessed an event that would remain etched upon their mind.....forever. I have seen the face countless times over the 30 years I have been doing this job.

The face, of a father, kneeling over his daughter, in the middle of a busy street. He was crossing with his three kids and with only two hands, the older daughter got a bit ahead. The face, blood stained, from a father’s futile attempt to save his daughter.

The face, at fires, where the loved were lost or as the fruits of a lifetime of labor and irreplaceable memories vanished.

The face, of a mother, faced with the lifeless form of her child. Her sudden realization that in an effort to provide comfort and get some sleep, had rolled-over and unknowingly suffocated her baby.

The face, of another mother, unable to understand why her baby wasn’t breathing yet knowing instinctively, there was no hope. She knew and I knew, but the face. I could think of nothing but my daughter, about the same age, the same size. I scooped her up and started mouth to mouth as I ran down the stairs of the apartment building, hoping the ambulance would arrive soon. I knew there was no hope but I had a daughter, I had to try.

The first time, the face of my Grandfather, who I had just helped to drag the body of my Father out of his car in my Grandparents garage. Thanksgiving Day 1972 was a very long day. My parents had a fight a few days earlier, as they often did; however, this one was particularly cruel. Those of you who had alcoholic parents know these days well. Come Thanksgiving Day, he had not returned from wherever he went at these times. Seeking a chance to avoid my Dad’s inevitable return and the fireworks that would ensue, I asked my Grandparents if I could go home with them. Safe haven. As we pulled into the drive, I got out of the car to open the garage door. There was my Dad's car, running, it didn't immediately dawn on me what had happened. As long as I live, I’ll not forget the face, of my Grandfather, and I’m sure he didn’t forget the face, of his Grandson, till the day he died.

Tuesday, the face, of a woman in the course of her daily routine, a witness to the last decision of a desperate man. He stepped in front of an express commuter train. We arrived to a horrific scene, and a lone woman. I immediately recognized the face, the face of a fellow human being that had just witnessed an event she would never forget. She was quickly wisked away by the police, I hope she will be OK.

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Comment by Chris Piepenburg on April 30, 2011 at 4:37pm


I definitely takes folks like you to recognize that face.  So many times in the course of our duties folks often overlook the ones on the outskirts of the situation.  These people need our attention as well!  Who knows what they saw, but unless we ask we cannot help them deal with whatever they are trying to deal with.  Take care Brother!

Comment by John K. Murphy on April 29, 2011 at 3:12pm
Powerful Posting. We have all seen the face and fervently hope to never see it again. Unfortunately we see it over and over.

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