Too Close – Aurora Bridge

Aurora Bridge Crash

September 24, 2015
Aurora Bridge.
Seattle, Washington.

It was a normal day. I was hard at work with my coworker on our company’s mobile app, Penster Docs. Though mostly focused, I was excited to leave so that I could go picnic with my girlfriend, Juri. She just started school across the water, and was available for an evening with me. She also told me that she had prepared food, and that made me hungry.

When 4 o’clock hit, chimes went off and I packed quickly. Time for dinner with my favorite person. Whistling out the door into the crackly outdoor breeze, I made my way up the stairs and scanned for her car.

“There she is.”

I approached in the usual manner: tip-toe tip-toe then creep up to her driver window.

“HEY,” I jump and make the usual cheeky smile. Our eyes meet, but something is wrong. Her cheeks are soaked in tears. She clutches her phone weakly.


“Did you hear about the accident?” she breathes in-between sobs.

“No, what happened?”

“My friends,” she exhales deeply, sniffling, and hands me her phone with an article from Seattle Times.

“Oh shit.”

“My friends [from orientation] are on that bus.”

“Do you know if they were hurt?”

“I don’t know… But everyone is asking me if I’m okay,” she pauses blankly, “even my friends in Japan heard the news and are checking in on me.” She looks down, “I could have been on that bus. But I’ve already been to the places they were going, so I didn’t go.”

“Do you want to go over there now?”

“No. I want to have a picnic with you.”

Bewildered about her current state, I nod and hop in shotgun. I guide her toward a park that is close, and we setup on a picnic table with a view of the bay.

“It’s a beautiful day,” I simply state.

“Mhm,” Juri replies muffly. She opens her lunch bag and pulls out two plastic food containers. “Yakiudon, and… No wait! Don’t look at it!” She turns and hides the mysterious entree from me. I start giggling, and tease her. “本当に見ないで! (really, don’t look!)” she yells.  After a brief 5 minutes, she turns toward me. “Okay, you can look.”
Sleeping RerakumaBefore my eyes is the cutest thing I had ever seen (and it is edible!). “Eggs, nori, broccoli, and rice,” she smiles, the way that only she does. “Lets eat!”

As we’re chowing away, first at his ears, then his eyes, then his abdomen, Juri clicks her iPhone home button. Once. Twice. Four times. Eight times.

“Hear anything yet?”

“No. I’m so worried about my friends.”

Juri met Claudia Derschmidt (Austria) and Haram Kim (Korea) at new student orientation at North Seattle College. They were in a group together, and she grew close to them very quickly. “Claudia came here to study, and lives with her 15 year old son in Greenlake, ” she told me. “She said that she has had a hard life and is hoping to create a better one for herself and her family.” Haram is a very sweet girl who, “pulled my hair back a few times for me when I was eating because it was in my food.”

I try to comfort her amidst the wild unsurity as I listen to these stories. We pack up and drive to a different park. We talk for a bit and then she brings me back to my car. “Tell me when you get home,” I say. She agrees to it, we kiss, and then part.

A DUKW collided with a bus full of North Seattle College international students on Thursday, September 24th. Claudia (49 years old) was among the four that died that day. Haram (20 years old) sustained critical injuries and was in ICU for a few days afterward. She has since passed away.

All of us connected somehow are mourning. To the families of the victims, my sincerest condolences. There are many families, friends, acquantainces, and colleagues behind these news headlines.

Time is like the wind
That comes in the morning
With a barely palpable caress of the cheek
Rising to a comfortable caress
In its measured passage of the day
Until it rises a sudden gale
Revealing the irrevocability of its power
Trembling our browning leaves
And blowing them to our finality.

~ Phillip Pulfrey