A man with only one leg, and by that I mean there was nothing on his left side beneath his pelvis, except his one-legged jeans, the hem removed and the opening sewn shut.
The jeans covered a stump resting on the bicycle seat, and he rode it like a scooter with his remaining leg kicking along the paved path next to the river in the humid summer heat.
It reminded me of the really old lady whose leg was amputated decades earlier and given to me like a very heavy gift in the operating room when I was an intern just after medical school.
A leg is surprisingly substantial, and all these years later as I watched this stranger pass, I once again felt the unexpected weight of it in both my arms. I remember awkwardly pleading, my eyes just above my surgical mask, silently asking the nursing staff what I was to do with this unwieldy, now disembodied leg.
As the single-legged man rode by I felt the weight of his invisible leg.
There was no back story to either encounter. I was not able to follow-up with the elderly lady those decades past, and I had no dealings with the stranger today. It is one of my many hauntings; an occupational hazard for me, but one that countless humans face.
After the single-legged man passed by, I told my friend about that earlier leg removed from the elderly lady. In the sharing, the haunting dissolved into a memory and the stranger with the bike looked happy as he zoomed along on his one good leg under the lush, green canopy of summer trees.