On Thanksgiving eve, our town mourned the passing of two residents, a nanny and her 9 year old ward, a student in the local elementary school. In a horrific auto/pedestrian accident, the lives of three families were changed, forever.
As often happens following a tragedy, towns people came together to mourn the losses. Some gathered in houses of worship, neighbors lined their streets with candles, and others likely took a moment in personal prayer and reflection in a demonstration of collective grieving.
Counselors were available in the school to comfort and support young children dealing with the challenge of reconciling the sudden loss of a friend.
A simple wooden cross was erected along the roadside, site of the tragedy, to serve as a solemn place for people to share their grief by leaving flowers and tokens of remembrance for the deceased.
The local school district coordinated with town police to post a crossing guard at the memorial sight, to assure the safety of children who might be want to cross the busy street and visit the memorial. As one of the town’s school crossing guards, I was assigned to this post.
This would be a different duty, very different.
With quiet respect, I stood stationary at the spot, my bright yellow uniform jacket drawing attention of passers-by to the memorial, by now flush with a potpourri of colorful flowers and trinkets laying against a dusting of fresh snow. Vehicles slowed, some waved, but many stared, mournfully and solemnly.
The near total absence of foot traffic gave me time to focus on the memorial, myself, offering a brief prayer for the deceased and their families. As the weekdays passed, I seemed to transition from a crossing guard to an honor guard.
A few neighbors stopped to express appreciation to the school district and police department for posting a crossing guard. By week’s end, there seemed to be a general sigh of relief on the faces of the same drivers who passed daily. People were beginning to accept what happened, as sad as it was.
Life moves on, doesn’t it?
An Eskimo Proverb