By: Joey Wieser
Yesterday at approximately 3:15 P.M., an unidentified, middle-aged white female was walking down Broadway when she suffered what appears to have been a heart attack. She collapsed directly in front of Seattle Central Community College’s Mitchell Activity Center, and the sole witness said the woman’s body shook for a brief moment before becoming unresponsive.
By the time Alia Marsha and I arrived at the scene, paramedics were already administering CPR. After 15 minutes of failed attempts to revive the woman, the EMT’s placed her on a stretcher and carefully loaded her body into an ambulance. Because the ambulance drove off slowly without sirens on, I concluded that the woman had died there on the sidewalk, mere steps away from the Bonney Watson Funeral Home.
Without a last name, neither the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct nor the Medical Examiner Investigations Office were able to provide me with any details of the woman. She did not appear to be an SCCC student.
Below is a short narrative detailing my experience before, during, and after the tragic event.
Everyone Dies Alone
By: Joey Wieser
We eat at the same pizza shop across the street from school every Tuesday, but something about this Tuesday is very different.
The combination of a recent breakup and an insatiable thirst to fill an emotional void leaves me teetering on the wrong side of my priorities, I explain, as a good friend listens to me vent about my superficial problems.
“Straighten up”, she says. “Don’t let your happiness be dependent on someone else, Joey. In the end, everyone dies alone.”
Minutes later, as we head back to school, returning to the mundane, the schedules, the deadlines…we notice an unoccupied police bicycle. Lights attached to the bike faintly flash red and blue. I see these bicycles on Capitol Hill often, but this one oddly stands out.
November air is cold and unforgiving; something doesn’t seem right. As we look ahead, we notice several ambulances and a crowd of people gathering outside the Mitchell Activity Center in a close huddle. My attention immediately goes to the woman on the ground. She has ten emergency medical staff surrounding her, trying by all means to save her life.
One man is holding a yellow air pump to her mouth, another is pushing thin green tubes down her throat, and another is performing CPR.
A few steps away from the woman, an unclaimed pair of tall, black leather boots energetically stands upright near the woman’s silent, bare feet.
The lump in my throat sinks to the pit of my stomach. Her face looks disturbingly familiar. I’ve never seen this woman, but I’ve seen this face before, and I know it well. It is the same face that I see at every funeral. Alone, limp and lifeless, the woman is dead. In this moment, I feel my trivial problems leave me just as quickly as the lone woman’s breath had left her lungs.
With the look of loss in our eyes, we wearily walk back through the school doors. Time stands still as we hold each other’s arms, and Seattle Central’s hallway matched that of both of our faces— empty. There are no words here, only death. The image of the woman’s inanimate body lying next to her lively, black leather boots is burned into my retinas.
I look to my friend for comfort as I walk her to the bus stop. With a mechanical indifference the 49 bus halts in front of us, and I hug my friend tightly. Hunched over, I never want to let go. Straighten up, I tell myself. In the end, everyone dies alone.