A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

In Memory

It’s amazing the things you see while walking that you blaze by in a car with barely a glance. Today I walked on the road that runs in front of my mechanic’s shop while waiting for my van to be serviced. It was a cool, foggy morning. The fog was lifting, but still gave a surreal feel to my surroundings. About a mile out, I ran across an angel.  Then a little while later I came upon the roadside memorial pictured above.

I don’t know if this is a common practice in other parts of the country or world, but here in the South people will frequently erect crosses or place flowers on the side of the road where a loved one died in a car accident. I’ve seen dozens – or more. They are sobering reminders to those who pass by of the uncertainty of life.

Today, for the first time, I saw one up close. I examined it at first out of curiosity. My curiosity quickly turned to reverence. For a few solemn moments, I grieved the loss of a teenage boy that I never knew, whose name I will probably never know. But I do know a few things about him.

He wore caps – I imagine quite often. There were three that I saw. Two were hanging on the cross. One had fallen or been blown off. I carefully replaced it before I left. From them I learned that he was a UNC fan, a New England Patriots fan, and he liked Hondas. I am guessing that he was driving a Honda since a Honda hubcap was propped nearby. He attended one of the larger high schools in the county – there was a lanyard hanging on the cross bearing its name. I wondered about the significance of the bandana tied around the cross or the beads hanging beneath. There were two items that I initially thought were trash, but on closer inspection I saw that they had been placed there purposefully and weighted down to keep them from blowing away – a Dr. Pepper can and the plastic bag from Pepperidge Farm dinner rolls. A CD had been wedged into the ground, its title worn away by the weather. The words written in permanent marker could still be read: “We love you and miss you so much.”

Yes, believe he was dearly loved. From the care and thought put into this memorial, I know he is missed. And today someone grieved his death again – a complete stranger who happened upon holy ground.


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3 thoughts on “In Memory

  1. Anonymous on said:

    This is such a beautiful post. It’s amazing what we see when we slow down enough to see it. We have those roadside memorials here too, but I’ve never looked at one up close.

  2. That’s beautiful, and sad and then beautiful again. Will pray for that young man and his family at this morning’s Eucharist.

  3. Anonymous on said:

    We see those all of the time here. How very sad. I am glad that you were there to bring his story to life.

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