Every day, I see this memorial of a young girl who had just received her drivers license. She is not the only one who has died here. Later on down the road, is another memorial of a young man.
I live in a small agricultural farming community, and we have many long country roads that entice young drivers to speed, or not pay enough attention during the long stretches of pavement. Eventually, a new memorial shows up and becomes part of the scenery like new art that suddenly appears. At first, it is always so tragic to see, especially if we, by some slim chance, didn't already hear about the accident. But as time passes, the silk flowers fade, vandals take the mementoes and someone looses interest in it's upkeep. Then the city sweeps everything away and leaves a bare spot. I think this is very sad and I have mixed feelings regarding the idea of putting up a memorial on a city street. Some people may argue that it's no different than a plaque dedication on a building, or a pillar somewhere near an important historical site, (obviously, I have already had these discussions :) but these memorials have a graveyard kind of feel to them. To me, they look misplaced and it's not somewhere one can stop for reflection, or have a conversation with your loved one. It just says, "John Doe died right here on this very spot." And, I'm sorry, but they always give me a more creepy feeling than a reflective one.
~ I get a lot of Federal Express stuff brought to my house. I am always ordering something online for the business, and I also get many packages from well wishers and my hubbies latest toys. So, another thing that comes with living in a small town is that, I really get to know my postal delivery people. We are friendly and call each other by name. Because I have lupus, I am one of the few people that are actually home and able to answer the door to chat about the weather, our kids, my health and the like. Mr. R is my Fed Ex man and he has had this route for quite some time, a few years I think. 3 weeks ago, I got a package, it was a record breaking hot day and Mr. R was overheated and breathing hard. In my concern, I got him a big glass of iced water, which he gulped down in a flash, and then we had a delightful conversation. He left and my day resumed, as did his.
~Minutes later I heard police and fire sirens blaring close by and knew that it must have been something big because the sirens just kept on coming for an unusual amount of time. I called a friend (you know...like you do when the electricity shuts off) and we discussed the dire sounds of the last few minutes. Later, she called me back, "Darlene, it was a head on collision on X road! A semi-truck crossed over the center line and instantly killed a Fed Ex driver!!!"
~I asked if his name was Mr. R, was he African American, what was his route? Was it a man, a big man? Who, who who?" No answers. The news paper the next day didn't help in the identity either. The person was referred to as "the Fed Ex employee." Ever since that day, Mr. R has not knocked on my door again. I had been seeing this kind man, who works so very hard, but always asks me, "How's your health today, Mrs S?" and I haven't seen him since that day. I want to call the office, but a part of me is afraid to. I want to find out that his route got changed, not that he was the Fed Ex employee.
~Now when I drive down that part of road X, I look for a new memorial, and breathe out hard when I don't see one. Maybe it takes some of the families more time than other's to muster up the emotional strength required to actually build one? Maybe they don't agree with honoring someone that way? Maybe I'll just have to make that phone call after all.
~My point is this...if a memorial suddenly did show up on the side of the road and it was for Mr. R, I would have an emotional attatchment to it. I might even go as far as putting something there, along with all the other small items that get glued in place. I may even talk to him as I pass by in my car, letting him know that no one delivers my packages like he did, or that I miss him asking me how I was feeling that day. Or, having small chats over a glass of cold water on a hot day.
~So, I drive towards the memorial that you see in the picture above and now I say, "I'm sorry Tasha, I'm sure you were a delightful, beautiful young lady and I'm sure that your parents miss you a great deal and keep you in their hearts." I no longer look at it as an 'out of place' memorial. It is now a reminder that I am lucky to be alive and that every once in awhile the ones that are gone need to be reminded that they are still special and loved...maybe even by a stranger.