Fragile Spring

a child, the age my own, lost her life this spring on the rural highway around the corner from where we just built our first home…
each morning when my son rides the yellow bus to school, he passes the spot where eight-year old Kayla was killed…
they played basketball together in the league this past winter…

the fragility of life is so palpable in the face of tragedy that it surprises me how permanent it can feel most of the time…
each day i think about how our lives would be changed if we lost a child…
each time i get into the car, my mind is on that beautiful field beside which those two cars collided on a perfectly clear Monday afternoon…

i slow down on the highway when i pass there, in reverence for what was lost …
why do people leave flowers?”  my sons ask after we bring a handful of daisies and pussy willows…
i don’t know really, “  i tell them  “it’s kind of an unspoken tradition…  honoring the person who died...”
i answer as much for them as for myself….

perhaps we leave flowers on the road to create beauty out of anguish, to make holy that place where suffering took place…
each day another plant or cross or bouquet appears;  this morning a  pink plastic flamingo…  maybe that little girl loved flamingos…  pink was probably her favorite color

i wish i could pour flowers from my heart onto that hill, creating a shrine to grief…

i think about route 9…  it’s such an every day part of our lives…  we spend so much time driving on it without the awareness that in just one moment, a truck could cross the road and make that trip to town anything but mundane…

a young woman from the college lost her life to it this winter on Hogback; and the year before, a gracious friend lost her life to its curves and beauty near the Adam’s Crossroads;  the driver of the truck that killed young Kayla also lost his life, at the age of 24

perhaps I’m more consumed than others to death by automobile- given that as a child i lost my grandmother in that way…
she was only in her fifties when she and her three best friends were killed on a bridge outside Philadelphia… they were on their way to a golf match…  four gals out for the day…  the truck driver who smashed into them never saw their broken down car that his sixteen wheeler drove the length of a football field across the great expanse of that bridge, finally landing on top for them…

as truck drivers surprisingly can do, he walked away unhurt…   I’ll never forget his name “Steven Nosel, age 32” …  i read it in the newspaper over and over again…
he had gotten lost that day outside the city and hadn’t meant to be on that bridge…  he must be in his sixties now

I’ve always wondered and worried how he survived that afternoon, the bright sun blinding his view…  rocking my world forever…

just recently I’ve begun looking for him… I’m not entirely sure why…
but like the flowers left on the roadside where a loved one has died-  i want to create something of beauty out of our suffering…

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