Blocking The Path


Spring shows itself again this morning.

After crossing the James River by ferry I land at Jamestown where this part of the country began. 

A replica of the ship which brought settlers sits in a shallow harbor and I wonder at the courage of those who dared the crossing more than 4 centuries ago.

I head northwest on a bike path safe from the road …it leads to Richmond our nights stay.

Not far in my path is blocked and I wait for them to cross.

The water is calm over the Chickahominy River emptying into the James. 

The day is beautiful, small puffy clouds in the sky, a warm sun and no wind.

3/4 in I see ahead of me a commotion and a rider from the other direction go down. There are a few women riding in my direction closer to him. 

As I get nearer I have a foreboding  that something terrible is wrong. The rider on the ground in the woods is not moving, not even his legs. 

As I get closer one of the women tells me she is a nurse and that…he is dead.

“ His pupils are fixed and dilated, look at the tilt of his head”.

Yes it sits at a strange angle on his neck and he remains motionless. At first I thought he was having a seizure but there was no doubt he was in fact dead.

The nurse got on her bike and left …me there with two women and him there on the ground.

Time becomes blurred, suddenly there is a police car, and a rescue squad …again claiming turf over the scene. I tell them I am a physician and was about to say “He is dead” but they push me aside and say that I am blocking the path. 

I watch them start useless CPR  and shaken I leave the scene.

But for the roll of the dice again that could have been me. 

Down the path I found the two woman who had been with me and asked if they saw why he went down…they thought he hit a bump and fell…I never saw any bumps when I left.

I stopped to call home stunned  at what had happened but decided afterwards that the best thing to do was to ride on…

I have seen death before as an MD but never like that. I did once as a 12 year old see a similar death but somehow it got deeply buried in my past. It came back vividly as I rode the rest of the day and I was a young teenager in shock all over again.

When I arrived at our host Methodist  church I was greeted by a member who asked if I needed anything.

“ Yes, I’d like to talk to the Minister please”.

He was on vacation. When I explained why the member became teary eyed and gave me a hug then disappeared.

Just by chance there was a Hispanic group celebrating there at the church with crowds of beautiful children playing on the lawn.

I bought two pupusas from a vendor and sat down on the green to surround myself with… life…the laughter and joy of children running around. 

Tears started flowing down my cheeks as I stared at the ground.

I forced myself to stop crying so as not to frighten the children and quietly ate my food.

Suddenly from the parking lot a woman approached and introduced herself. 

“ I am the minister from the Methodist Church down the street. I hear you had a bad day”.

We sat and talked about life and death for a while. As a missionary in Honduras and Sierra Leon she had seen a lot of traumatic death. She ended with a beautiful prayer, calmed me, and left.

As she did she turned to me and said” I was having the worst time writing my sermon for tomorrow but God sent me an Angel in you. Now I know what to say.”

I turned to see my Angel there smiling at me and gave thanks for the protection I receive every day.

I will ride on, watch closely for bumps along the way …and do my best not to block the path again.

3 thoughts on “Blocking The Path

  1. Once again, thank you! Your words are so touching. What an experience, death in the woods. Moments with a priest. Thank you!


  2. Prayers of comfort for the family of the fallen rider and thanks for the miracle of Angels. Keep safe my friend.


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