Dear Hannah

Dear Hannah

I hope that’s how you spell your name.

After you were taken away by ambulance, I thought of you all the way home.

I also thought about how my day had started just a few hours back.

I remember beginning my day wondering how I should dress for the day. It was 6:35 am when I asked my iPhone assistant, Siri, to tell me about today’s weather, to which she indicated it was 53 degrees outside. Siri also added today’s highest temperature would be 64.

Perfect weather, I thought, for wearing my super-warm, denim-colored hoodie.

The next wardrobe issue at hand had been whether or not I would bother wearing a tank top underneath.

Decisions, decisions.

At the last minute, I randomly chose a simple white tank, slipped it on, and then jammed myself into my super-warm, denim-colored hoodie as planned.

Moments later, I jumped into my car and began my trek up to the Berryville DMV. (For those unfamiliar with our area, the Berryville DMV is small and shares office space with a used auto lot in the rural area of Clarke County, Virginia.)

It was a quiet stretch of driving; 32 whole minutes west according to my GPS. The plan was to be one of the first in line to update my car’s registration, then book it back home thereafter.

So off I went, up and down the many hills and winding roads lined with autumn’s extraordinary display along the way.

Overall, it was a relatively uneventful ride and I was so eager to get the whole DMV thing over with as quickly as possible.

Once there, I parked and was delighted to see I was the second person to arrive. Although, I think I saw you parked off to the far left of me. I wasn’t exactly sure if you were there before me?

But no matter, I thought. I rushed to collect my things with the hopes of beating you, and potentially anyone else, for the second-in-line spot.

Moments later, there I was, standing second in line. I was behind the first person there: an older male with a pile of thick white hair curling out under his navy blue cap.

I busted out my neuromarketing book and began to pick up on where I had left off from the previous day: page 32.

By the time I reached page 36, DMV was still closed with 13 more minutes before opening. It was then I noticed you and one other older gentleman standing in line right behind me.

We all kept to ourselves, silently waiting for DMV’s doors to open.

9 more minutes.

I found myself reaching page 39 of my book and was really getting into it when suddenly, I heard a loud CRACKING THUMP.

While I did hear the whacking sound, I confess I did not turn around to see what had caused it — something I deeply regret now more than you can know.

At the time, I opted to blow off that CRACKING THUMP as perhaps some old kind of car part that had fallen to the ground. And so I continued to keep my eyes fixed on page 39 of my book.

Until I noticed the two other older men in line talking aloud as they shuffled about.

“What the hell!?” one gasped in growing alarm.

“Is she ok?” the other asked with a clear tremble in his voice.

That was it.

It was time, I told myself, to finally turn around and SEE what the hell was going on.

I lowered my book, turned my gaze, and there you were with your slender, frail figure completely sprawled out over the frigid morning’s concrete, surrounded by gravel and puddles of mud.

I dropped my book, then my keys.

I just stared down at you in total shock, not instantly knowing what to do.

The two older men kept nervously shuffling back and forth. “I don’t think we should touch her,” one said with reluctance as he kept his distance. “You never know, you know?” The other agreed and asked, “Like shouldn’t someone call 9-1-1- or somethin’?”

I don’t know why both men seemingly looked to me for some kind of leadership during this situation.

What I do know is I was busy trying to contain my complete and utter panic. I found myself totally locked in fear, even though *YOU* were the absolute helpless one slithering with eyes flickering on the cold, broken ground.

I approached you carefully, afraid you might strike out if anyone touched you. And as I neared, I somehow managed to fumble for my phone and began to dial 9-1-1 with quivering hands.

“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

“Hi, I was standing in line at the Berryville DMV when a young woman behind me collapsed or fainted and hit the concrete hard. She’s still laying on the ground and needs help!”

“Is she breathing?”

Omg were you breathing !!??

I couldn’t tell ??

I was petrified at this point and couldn’t focus. Yet somehow, I knelt down next to you and tried to fix my gaze on your chest.

It was then I saw your brown-checkered shirt buttons shift slightly up and down along your chest. That’s when I realized you were definitely still breathing, thank God.

“Yes, yes still she’s breathing,” I sputtered.

“What’s she doing now, is she still laying on the ground?”

“Yes, ma’am, she’s still down on the ground, still wriggling, eyes constantly fluttering, but breathing.”

“Do you know her age?”

“Ma’am, I don’t know this girl, we were all standing in line but based on her appearance, maybe 21’ish, if that?”

I looked up and could see a few more DMV customers starting to arrive. Before long, a small crowd of curious onlookers began to grow.

“OK, ma’am. Just sit tight, I’ve got an ambulance on its way and it should be there soon but while you wait, can you wrap her in something to keep her warm?”

Wrap her in something, I thought to myself. What the fuck was I going to use? We’re in the middle of a rural, used car parking lot surrounded by rusty mufflers and dusty vehicles in the middle of nowhere.

But then it hit me: I should use my super-warm, denim-colored hoodie!

THANK GOD, I told myself as I frantically wriggled free from my hoodie, that I chose to wear my white tank top today! Otherwise, folks would be witnessing a whole other dramatic scene altogether.

As I draped my super-warm, denim-colored hoodie over you, the DMV had since opened and the onlookers around us dissipated, one by one.

And so there I was, in a summertime top amidst 50-degree weather, tending to you as you silently lay next to me.

I could hear the wailing sirens nearing, then I noticed some lights flashing. And it was then I saw your eyes were now fully open. Yet I heard you raspily whisper, “I can’t see.”

Omg, you’re talking!

“I don’t know if you can hear me,” I explained. “But you fell down and hit the ground hard. The ambulance is here now and they’re going to take good care of you.”

Then the ambulance folks arrived and began asking their 20-20 questions. I did my best to answer, and thank goodness you could kind of talk as well. I heard you say you’re 19 and on anxiety medication. And when you were asked if you knew where you were, you heavily slurred your response: “Berrrrrrryyyyyvvvvilllllle.”

“What’s your name?” one of the medics asked you.

After a pause, you groggily volunteered your name.

I heard you say it was Hannah.

The next thing I knew, you were being wheeled into the back of the ambulance.

I hastily shoved your DMV paperwork, purse, and phone (which had scattered about) onto the back of your moving gurney and informed the medics.

And that’s pretty much where my part of this morning’s story ends: on the helpless sidelines, sleeveless and unnerved while watching the medics begin an IV and stabilize you in the back of the ambulance.

All the while, DMV customers came and went, and it was then realized I had completely lost my place in line.

Oh well.

I slowly headed back towards the DMV, all the while looking over my shoulder towards the ambulance wondering if you’d be ok.

There’s really nothing more to recount here other than you’ve continued to remain heavily on my mind throughout the day.

While I’ll never know if you fully recovered or if something more grave was at hand, it is my sincere hope you have loving family and friends by your side for support.

Hannah, wherever you are, I wish you a most speedy recovery.


Mayra Ruiz-McPherson


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