I’m rolling into the Baltimore station yet again, and since my last trip north on the exact same train, in the quite car again, where I sat just two months ago when our train struck a human on the tracks. Since we pulled out of the last station, I’ve been head down in my book, hoping for the best — we’re cruising through Baltimore’s tunnels now and should hopefully arrive at the station without incident. For weeks after the accident, I scanned the news for mention of the poor soul that was struck – that poor woman whose life will never be the same. For now, it seems that we’re cruising slowly, and peacefully into the station.
Several questions have dogged me since that train ride in March, and all of those questions revolve around trauma. May is Mental Health Awareness month and since today is the last of the month, I find myself really pondering how we as a society can emphasize the importance of mental health check-ups. Part of the marketing campaign for the month revolves around the phrase “breaking the stigma” — which I completely support; part of breaking the stigma is turning things from oddities into routines.
For a woman to find herself on a set of train tracks — most certainly involved trauma, not just the accident, but whatever brought her to that place. Because news coverage is so weak, it is impossible to know her circumstance before or after the accident; but no one finds themselves near train tracks on a well-known busy commuter corridor in a major metropolitan area without having lived through some trauma. And what of the train driver and other staff that saw the accident yet could not prevent it? What of the first responders — who must see accidents like this on a regular basis? Trauma is all around us, yet our American culture remains steadfast in its neglect of the fact that the eyes cannot un-see, the brain cannot un-learn and the flesh cannot un-feel.
We must do more.