As the title might betray, this will not be a fun post, and it contains descriptions of a deadly accident that I assisted at yesterday. This post, I guess, I am writing mostly for me, but there is a message of hope in there, and some Hellenistic ritual concerning the dead and death, so perhaps it is of interest to you as well. Beware of triggers, and if you feel the post is affecting you, please just close the window.

Photo credit: Menno Bausch

Yesterday was quite a day. I was making the bed when I heard a minor crash outside. Accidents are quite frequent outside our houseas I live literally four meters away from a busy road. As there is a weird curve in the road to slow down traffic, many cars catch the curb when they drive through too fast. At the sound of the crash--which had sounded more like a 'thud'--I looked up just in time to see a woman on a scooter fall next to a large truck in a way that I could not imagine her avoiding the back wheel of said truck. I hurried into my shoes and ran outside. On the front porch was a housemate and friend--we'll call him 'Bob'--who had heard the crash and followed me out onto the road when I told him it was bad.

When we rounded the driveway onto the street, we saw a fallen scooter and a figure lying on the road, not moving. Even from ten meters or so away, we could see pink matter on the street and some blood. Next to her stood another scooter and a woman, looking wildly around her, phone to her ear. I ran to her, pulled her into a hug so she looked away from the woman on the ground, and looked over her shoulder to check if the woman could still be saved. By the way she was not moving a muscle and the way well... the way she looked, I could say without a doubt that she was dead. I asked the woman whom I was holding what her name was, and she told me. For privacy reasons, we'll call her 'Jane'. I asked her if she had called our equivalent of 911. She said she had dialed the number and handed me the phone. I held her as she cried on my shoulder and spoke to the woman on the other end of the line. I told her our address and that there had been a deadly accident: scooter versus truck. She promised to sent out emergency services right away, and we hung up.
I asked Ashley what had happened, and looked up to see where Bob was. He was with the teenage school kids who go to the school next to our house. I would later hear from him that two of the girls had seen the accident happen. The whole group was in shock and crying. Another housemate, we'll call him 'Harry', had joined Bob with the girls, and a young female cop who had been on a prisoner transport when the accident happened and was parked in the cue of cars waiting had joined them as well.
While we waited for the emergency services, Jane told me that the woman on the ground was her colleague, Melissa, whose name I will not change out of respect and remebrance for the dead. They had to swerve around the group of students previously mentioned, and Melissa had appearently not noticed the truck. She hit the side, lost control of her scooter, and fell. Obviously, she had not been able to avoid the tire of the truck, and she had not worn a helmet.
From the other side of the road, two off-duty cops joined the scene and went back to the car for a blanket once they saw what had happened. They covered Melissa up a little--her head at least-- and went on to direct traffic. The next hour, the cops and ambulances showed up and I took Ashley away while Bob and Harry took the students to a place they could not see the woman. The whole street was closed off, and witnesses heard. I stayed with Ashley until her dad came and then kept an eye on her until she was taken away to the police station. Harry, Bob, and I then stayed for a while to direct cyclists and then went back to the porch to wait out the next bit.
Forensic teams worked the scene and when the coroner came, we went to watch how Melissa was taken away. It was a horrible thing to watch--perhaps the worst part of it, even though we were at the edge of our driveway and at least 10 meters away--but we had to see this thing through. I felt I couldn't leave Melissa yet, not like that. We watched the car drive off and then huddled together to talk over the events, cry, and call family and friends for support. I covered up my main altaer to keep miasma away from it as much as possible, and signal this household 'out of service' until purification could take place. I also went online to get some advice on proper kathartic rituals, because my brain refused to provide me with the next religious steps.
Armed with advice, I went for a (sea-salt) shower and put the clothes I had been wearing in the laundry. I dressed, and waited for the police and firemarchals to finish processing the scene and cleaning the street. When the road was free again, and cars were allowed back on the road, I went for a visit of the site. I stood there for a while, marveling at the fact that you couldn't even see what had happened anymore, and said a second prayer for her--the first I did when the initial panic had subsided. After that, I went back inside, for some food and distraction.
Last night, around 11 PM, I went out with a plate of offerings to the dead and Hermes Khthonios. I had my hair unbound (as traditional for the dead), and walked right up to the fence. The woman died not a meter away from there. Next, I dug a pit and sprinkeled it with barley, then fell to my knees at the edge of it. I offered a hymn and coin to Hermes to pay for the woman's passage to wherever she wanted to go. I recited the Orphic hymn to Hermes with a few tweaks and in another translation:
"Hermes I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell in the dire path which leads to deepest hell. O Bacchic  Hermes, progeny divine of Dionysos, parent of the vine, and of celestial Aphrodite, Paphian queen, dark eye-lash'd Goddess of a lovely mien: who constant wand'rest thro' the sacred feats where hell's dread empress, Proserpine [Persephone], retreats; to wretched souls the leader of the way when Fate decrees, to regions void of day: thine is the wand which causes sleep to fly, or lulls to slumb'rous rest the weary eye; For Persephone's thro' Tart'rus dark and wide gave thee forever flowing souls to guide. Come, blessed pow'r the sacrifice attend, and grant our mystic works a happy end." [56]

Then I gave sacrifices of milk, honey, and wine to the spirit of Melissa by pouring them into the pit in the ground, to strengthen her mind and spirit for the journey. I promised her that she would be remembered at least in my lifetime, and expressed my hope that she would be remembered always. I sat there crying for a while--loudly--and then covered the pit up. After walking back inside, I cried for a little while longer and then went to sleep. I had a bit of trouble falling asleep as my mind kept flashing back to some of the roughest moments--seeing her fall, checking to see if she could possibly be alive, shielding her friend, watching her get picked off of the ground--but slept soundly, without nightmares, although I couldn't go back to sleep when I woke up at seven AM because of the images.When my girlfriend wakes up, I will shower, bind my hair up, and pray to Apollon in his epithets of Paian ('The Healing'), and Alexikakos ('Averter of Evil'), as well as Apollon Argyieus ('Of The Street') whom I honor daily. I will go around the fence, garden and home with khernips and incense, and pray for purification. After that, I will Uncover my altar and perform my daily rituals. Then life can continue.

What I did yesterday, I did without concious decision. It never occurred to me not to run out and offer help in any way that I could. I am glad I did, and got to be there for someone who needed help and comfort so badly at that time. I think the images will haunt me for a while to come, but I got a text from the surviving woman yesterday, who was home, with fries, trying to sort it all out, but who thanked me for being there for her when she needed someone most... It makes it worth reliving the moments for a while longer.