Pieces of Me

The Girl at the Crossroads

Driving home. Late in the afternoon. Tired from a day’s work. Staring ahead into the peak hour traffic, barely moving forward. Mindlessly thinking about dinner and seeing my boys.

Then, I saw her.

Dishevelled blonde hair. Pyjamas on. Green polka dot bathrobe catching the breeze. She was walking. In the middle of the road. Against the traffic.

I was filled instantly with dread.

The traffic moved forward.

She kept walking. Slow. Steady. Head hung low. Never looking up.

I reached the intersection of two major crossroads. As I drove through, she kept walking. Slow and steady, against the stream of cars.

I exhaled in disbelief that she survived crossing that intersection without getting hurt.

The drivers in cars around me were furious, raged, annoyed.

Then, as my car crossed the railway line at the end of the crossroad, I saw her again.

She sat down. On the railway tracks. Right in the middle of the intersection.

OH-MY-GOD!

In a heart-beat, I stopped my car. Grabbed my phone and ran to her side. In my mind I was screaming “No, no, no! You are not doing this on my watch!”

As I reached her, so did another man. He bent low and tried to speak with her, asking her to move.

She was catatonic. Staring straight ahead. Not blinking. Not speaking.

I called 000. “Fire, ambulance or police?”

“All of them,” I said, “and please contact Metro trains we need to stop the trains!”

I spoke at length with 000. All the while, drivers were becoming more and more furious around us. Their anger completely baffled me. Completely. How could they not understand? How could they not stop to help? How could this be their inconvenience?

I had spoken to the police, who were on their way. An ambulance had been dispatched. The trains had been notified.

She remained perfectly still. Staring straight ahead. Sitting on the train tracks. Her eyes glazed over. Pale and lifeless. She sat.

I was overwhelmed with grief. Pain and sadness. Here was a girl, barely eighteen, at an age, where life holds all possibility, hope and promise. Here was someone’s daughter, alone, wishing her life away.

My heart broke into pieces for her. I wanted to sweep her up in my arms, soothe her and promise her that life is so much more than this. That she is so much more than this.

The police came. Slowly, the girl was moved from the train tracks. Order was restored to the raging, angry traffic.

The Girl at the Cross Roads

I do not know what happened to the girl after that day.

I went home. I had a throbbing headache. I was sad. My two little monkeys jumped all over me as I walked through the door. Jabbering away about the exciting adventures they had that day with their Nanna. I stared into their faces and could only see the girl.

How could life break the spirit of someone, so much so, that they could sit, waiting, on the tracks of a train line? How could so few people stop to help?

I prayed that night. I prayed that the girl was safe. That she was with her mother, her family. That this one moment I witnessed was enough to change the course of her life.

I prayed for my two boys. I do not know what their future holds. I do not know what life they may lead. So I prayed that if they were ever to find themselves sitting on a train track, without me there, that someone would stop to help.

Would you stop to help?

 beyondblue is working to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety in the community by raising awareness and understanding, empowering people to seek help, and supporting recovery, management and resilience. beyondblue is always there to talk to 1300 22 4636.

 

  • I am glad that you did – it is the little things that make us civilized, and stopping to help is one of those.

    • yes, stopping to help someone does make us civilized – what does it say about those who don’t stop?

  • Cyndie

    Very well written touching story

  • That is just so sad in so many ways. The poor girl who feels that life is so bad it is not worth it. How on earth did she get to that dark place? And those angry people, too concerned in their own lives to care about the life of another. So sad.

  • bachelormum

    That’s such a frightening story. The world isn’t a safe place for a lot of people, but often fate bring s the best out in human nature to help. Yes, I’d stop, I just think we’re all in it together x

  • Terrifying, and tragic. Glad you were there. Beautifully written Josefa. I hope she has received the love and help she needed.

  • Rhianna

    Oh goodness, what a terrible thing for you to witness. What an even more terrible thing for that young girl to be going through. I am glad you stopped though. I would have done the same. It amazes me though how many people don’t stop to offer help when it is needed.

    Swinging by as part of #teamIBOT and leaving some fairy wishes and butterfly kisses

  • How sad that only you and another person stopped to help. How sad that a young person should feel this way. Thank you for stopping and helping. You may have just changed somebody’s life forever.

    • Dorothy, I hope that her life has changed for the better – the sadness of the whole story is overwhelming xx

  • Liz @ Clover Feet

    I would have stopped. This is so well written and such an important message. I hope she has received the help that she needs.

  • Rebecca Thompson

    Bloody oath I would!
    I cannot believe that people were enraged at this.
    How lucky for this girl that you were there at the right time, right place. That you had the presence of mind to notify the trains.
    You left her in good hands and can be very proud of yourself for helping out in someones very desperate state of need.
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

    • Thank you Becc – funnily enough – the trains were the first thing I thought of! This intersection is notorious for deaths – I couldn’t let this girl be another one xx

  • Emily @ Have a laugh on me

    I would definitely stop, and I am often helping kids I see looking lost at theme parks, park or play centres, so heart breaking and a wake up call really. x

    • Emily, I always help little lost children too! Its like all the lost children seem to find me! Its a good thing I guess, always happy to help a little one be reunited with their mum xx

  • Pip (@melbournelass)

    Boy how traumatic witnessing such an event. Thank goodness people like you were there. I can see also how mentally ill people are just skimmed over sometimes by a fast-moving society. With every thoughtless person there’s a thoughtful person I believe. Nice one Josefa. x

    • I like the idea over people being skimmed over by a fast moving society – in that moment – it is exactly what was happening xx

  • bodyandfeetretreat

    Thank you so much for stopping. At one point in the past that could have been our daughter and I would love to think that if it was her, someone would have stopped to help her.
    I had goose bumps while reading this – thank for you for sharing and for making others think about what they would do in that same situation.
    Love, hugs and positive energy !
    Me

  • oh Josepha! I am both sorry you witnessed that, but glad you did. I can’t believe how many people around acted so callously and angrily. Gosh. I hope the girl is safe and well, and getting help, as it sounds like she certainly needs it 🙁 xo

  • How sad 🙁 It is good that you stopped and got her some help. Hopefully she will get access to the help she needs.

  • Oh my god, what a horrific experience. I hope I would stop. I’m sure I would. I instantly think of my own children in that situation too. Thank goodness that girl had you there.

  • Robyn (Mrs D)

    Absolutely!!! And how lovely of you to have stopped without a second thought. You helped to save her life – that’s amazing! What a terrible sad story though, gives me goosebumps. I do hope that she gets the help she needs xx

  • Guest

    I must admit, I wouldn’t stop to help. I’d feel annoyed too. I absolutely understand your sadness, and you are a beautiful person to have stopped and gone to help her. But she allowed her own grief to inconvenience hundreds of others, and that’s what is frustrating. The world needs more people like you!

    • No Kelly, she didn’t choose that. Mental illness is not a choice, it is an illness that we must stop seeing as someone’s choice if our world is to have a chance at loving more than hurting.

  • Yellow_Dandy

    Oh wow, what a heartbreaking and emotional experience. I’m so glad you stopped, too many people don’t stop anymore. Too many people don’t care. I would have done it too. I’ll be praying for her too. x Karen

  • TwitchyCorner

    Written and carried out with such tenderness and care. Good on you Josefa. I’d like to think I would get out if I were on my own- I can’t say I would definitely have done if I had the kids with me- too risky. But the fact that so many others just got angry instead of showing concern, means there’s a lot of people out there who could use a whole lot more heart. I hope she’s ok too, and that you are also xxx

    • Twitchy, maybe if I had my boys I would have stayed put and just got on the phone. Who knows? In these situations, instinct kicks right in!

  • Loree

    I cannot imagine how it must have felt to experience something like that. It’s so terrible. And so many people just walk by all the pain they see around them. And maybe I do too. Sometimes it’s so easy not to get involved and live in our own little safe shell.

  • Brought me to tears. I wish someone had stopped when they saw my brother, wherever he was….

    ~Anita

  • Of course I would stop. And just like you, I would spend the night praying for her. Such tragedy for her. Thank you for protecting her, and all the emergency services personnel who never had to deal with the aftermath of her decision. You did good. xx

  • How totally heart breaking! This should not even be a question – as far as I am concerned all members of a scoiety DO have a duty to help when they see something like this. This view may be unfashionable but I don’t care. The callous disregard of those who were more concerned about their inconvenience has made me as angry as the rest of the story has made me want to cry for that girl and the things that had brought her to that point.

  • Grace

    Oh, Josefa! What a horrible and sad tragedy. In a heartbeat I would stop too. Isn’t it sad though that our society has become so self-absorbed that there were angry drivers and commuters. Thank goodness you were there!

  • You are such a beautiful person for going to her as you did. It’s a well known social psychological phenomenon that people walk away in an instant like that, and that woman wouldn’t have survived. I worked at Lifeline for a while, and the stories of sorrow I would carry with me were almost too much to bear. I am so glad you are the person you are, with the heart you have. xx

    • Zanni, I can only imagine what stories you have to tell from your work at Lifeline, life is sad in so many ways isn’t it?

  • Josefa that is just about the most heartbreaking thing I have read in a long time, it truly is. What that poor girl must be feeling. How you must have been feeling. What a truly horrible situation. And the fact that other people didn’t even care, were so insensitive as to get angry at the inconvenience to them? The mind just boggles. Thank God there are still people like you who care enough to stop and help.

  • Rita

    This is such a sad story Josefa. I’m just speechless… I’m glad you stopped. I hope this young girl will be fine.

  • Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo

    Oh my lovely, on behalf of that girls family and her future self THANK GOD there are people like you around. xx

    • I hope that girls future self is happy and living the best life it can be, because the alternative is too heart breaking xx

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    You were her guardian angel Josefa and it makes me think things will turn around for her. Maybe she was there to remind you how much things have turned around for you too.

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