Friday, September 19, 2014

The day a helicopter flew over my head

It's funny how small decisions to shake up the daily routine can lead to experiences that might not have happened otherwise.

Case in point: I decided to ditch the bike today and instead ended up driving to the office. I know it's completely out of character. Left to my own devices, I'll pick two wheels over four every time. There's something elemental and fulfilling about powering through traffic on a bike. You feel remarkably alive as you move through the gears and the machine meshes seamlessly under your touch.

But this morning's pre-breakfast writing jag took longer than I expected, and by the time the rest of the house had awoken, I was behind on time. So car it was. Monday's another day.

On the way home, I decided to take a different route home, one that took me through the northern part of London. The sun was out, there was just a bit of fall crispness in the air, the music was wafting out of the open sunroof, and I was feeling pretty good about how the day had unfolded.

And then I heard it. The distant thump-thump of spinning composite blades. A helicopter. Getting louder. Maybe I felt it more than I heard it. Before long, it was clear that it was getting closer, and I was about to get buzzed.

So I did what any av-geek would do: I parked in the mall parking lot that happened to be conveniently beside me. I got out of the car and spotted the unmistakable orange form in the brilliantly blue sky. It was from Ontario's aerial medical transport service, ORNGE, one of the new AugustaWestland 139s, and it was on final approach to the helipad in front of University Hospital barely a kilometre away.

I wondered who was on it. I wondered what his or her story was. And I hoped whoever it was was well on the way toward getting the right kind of care from an institution I know all too well. Because the only reason I could even stand in the middle of a deserted parking lot and watch this seemingly small moment unfold was because of the good folks at UH. Last year, they saved my life. And I said a prayer that they'd work their same magic on whoever was flying over my head right now.

Of course, it could have been a simple ferry flight. And maybe I was overthinking it. Not every overflight signals an emergency or a life-threatening situation. But I said a quiet prayer for an unseen stranger, anyway. Because you just never know. And I figure some stranger might have done the same thing for me on a similarly sunny early evening just over a year ago. Returning the favor, however disconnectedly, seemed like the right thing to do.

I think I see more shaking up the routine in my near future. Because when life decides to throw an unexpected moment your way, you want to be sure you're in the right place to appreciate it.


1 comment:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I ALWAYS send up a prayer for good health when I see Life Flight. And safe passage for the medics on it; one of them is a friend.