It seemed a perfect Indian summer day-an idyllic day to take a break to experience small-town America. I’d heard that the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Pumpkin Regatta were loads of fun, so hurried to take my son to witness a different era. We stood in the warm sun near the start of the pumpkin parade and watched amusedly as creative and funkily clad pumpkins drove by, along with vintage cars and fire engines.
The 4H club, leading a sunburned cow with hooves painted bright orange…
Then the Shriners came, cavorting on their go-karts. I didn’t understand the roller coaster contraption on top of the truck in their midst. As they neared, the cars careening around the tight circles, I instantly fretted—how do they not lose control and run into each other? I reassured myself that they were experienced, and tried to bring myself back to just enjoying the warmth and the uncommon sites. Besides, these guys were clearly having the time of their lives. Their truck said ”we ride so others can walk.” The worrier in me popped out again as one, and then the next, rode over their truck on the roller coaster, and then back onto the street. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then, as they passed us, the clowning go-kart guys looped back around the truck for another run, aiming to delight the crowd lining the streets. I turned to watch, and saw a go-kart lose control and flip over, and then the others plowed into it, unable to stop as they barreled down the rail. Though horrified, I ran over to see if there was anything I might do. As the troopers and bystanders pulled the kart off of him, I saw the back of a disfigured, bulging head in a rapidly growing pool of blood. I walked slowly back to my family, sickened by the scene and my helplessness, as the EMTs and others cared for the man…
We left, and drove down to the Audubon camp, one of our favorite places in the world. The view of Hog Island and Muscongus Bay nourishes the soul…
But the visions of the accident kept coming back. Before I went to bed, I checked the news and found that the Shriner had, in fact, died of his injuries. I felt sad, but also felt a wave of relief, knowing that there are many things worse than death…He had been doing what he loved, with such child-like joy and abandon. He was truly living in the moment when his life was extinguished.
but then right in the middle of it
comes the smiling
Steve Jobs and others are right to say, “Live every day as if it is your last.” I wish I knew how, rather than always waiting for the other shoe to drop. So I hugged my son and husband, a little more tightly, and vowed to try and relearn.