Photo Prayer 2022-03 -- Roadside Memorial

I’ll tell you what it is. It’s that the sudden unexpected finality of her death had such a trivial cause. One minute this young woman was walking when — WHAM — the decades she thought she had were gone. Perhaps she forgot to look. Perhaps she looked but did not see. In her mind, she was on her way across the street. In reality, one of her shoes was left at the scene. Thirty-two hundred die every day in road crashes on this planet. Don’t tell me this is one of many. I’ll tell you what it is. The WALK signs still work here. The cars stop on red and go on green, thousands every day here at this one intersection, year after year. We are on our way! Somehow God is going to redeem it all, make it all right. Somehow. We do not know how. I can’t tell you how it will be, just that it will.

Photo of a descanso with Christmas decorations at Marsh and Silverside Roads, Wilmington, Delaware. An 18-year-old woman crossed into on-coming traffic here at 3:20 p.m. on Monday, September 13, 2021. Photo and text copyright 2022 Danny N. Schweers.

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Rosemary wrote:
This photo sent waves of grief through me. I was on my way for a haircut in Graylyn Crest Shopping Center when I saw this happen. I was stunned and in shock. It happened so quickly. A life was gone, her body loaded into an ambulance and taken away. Dreams, plans and the future died in a moment. I think of her every time I drive through that intersection.

Faye wrote:
Thank you for gifting me with the word “descanso”. I have seen many crosses on the side of the road, knew what they meant but never the word. What a wonderful, glorious promise we have that is beyond all our understanding. Though it never removes pain, it gives great hope that leads to peace.

Jack wrote:
      I agree with you about the sudden death of the young woman crossing at Marsh and Silverside. It brought all who witnessed the scene a sharp dose of reality about the very temporary nature of our life here and how we keep trying to apply permanence to it. I quote a high school joke from my past: "How do you make God laugh?"...answer... "Tell him your plans for the future."
      Yes... "descanso" can be translated as a break, a rest, an intermission, a breather, etc. etc. An interesting facet of how the Spanish language treats the condition of death is that one is not described by the words "es muerto", but "esta muerto"... an existing condition, not a permanent feature possibly such as "ojos azules" (blue eyes). This is not actually a good complete explanation of why the person "esta muerto" in lieu of "es muerto", but is my simplified Spanish and leads me to conjecture that a choice of the right verb might endow us with either everlasting, although intermittent, life or everlasting death. A brief "descanso" probably will not be much of a break from the struggle that seems to accompany animation that seems to me ever repeated ad infinitum.

Karen wrote:
Gives one pause! Prayers for her family! Thanks for sharing, she was loved!

Kathy wrote:
So true, Danny!

Alice wrote:
Such a solemn topic yet thought provoking.

John S. wrote:
Amen. Your faith is strong!

Anne wrote:
Danny......this photo reminds us that life is fragile and sometimes it's taken for granted… God Bless her family and friends.

Linda wrote:
A beautifully touching photograph and message.

Craig wrote:
      We have roadside memorials everywhere here in Arizona. And they of course aren't all Hispanic. Just a few blocks away there's a fairly large accumulation at one of the busier intersections in town. This was a young man working for the electric company who suffered a nasty electrocution while working on a power line. Immediately, memorials sprouted.....
      While I understand the urge, I think there's better ways to remember loved ones. I for one would not want to be constantly reminded that, say, my son died right here on this spot. Also, these memorials are, dare I say it, meaningless for the most part to everyone driving by. However, I'm not sure I'd want to be the one to ask the family to remove it!
      Driving thru the South years ago, I noticed many cemeteries right by the side of the road, not even a fence between them. I can understand the history of how something like this came about; they were rural areas. Still it was kind of odd. Like "road memorials" on steroids....
      Technically speaking I think these memorials are cenotaphs. I first came across that word in poem by Shelly, “The Cloud.” It's an incredible poem; Shelly seems to put all the weight of the Universe on this little white wisp. The word is contained in the final stanza:
I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.

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