Another road trip completed. It was an emotionally exhausting last weekend and one in which I was extremely happy to finally be home. We loaded up the car, me, the four kids and the adorable dog, and headed over the mountains to Nana’s house. Of course it was bound to be full of chaos and calamity, as is the norm, and it didn’t take long for it to begin. Shortly after leaving, I somehow managed to get the car stuck in 4 wheel drive while going up a mountain, while at the same time the little one spilled Gatorade all over his sister resulting in shrieking wails. Next, we had a battle over sitting in the dentist chair, locked the keys in the car, and to top it off my cell phone was thrown out the window and shattered beyond repair. Yet, I just can’t seem to get enough and keep taking them on my travels!
However, as I drove across the state, my mind was frequently drawn to those memorial markers on the sides of the road. You know those crosses that are planted in the ditches or near the road, where lives were ended and memories began? We all see them, often never giving them a second thought.
And I wondered…Why do the bereaved (me included) do this? Why do they make markers in ditches, on trees and fences, shrubs, rocks and more? I thought to myself…how is that poor family? How do they handle the pain? Are they still stuck in deep grief and sorrow, covered in darkness? How has their life changed since their loss? Have they done anything else to honor their loved one? Do they visit the memorial? Most importantly, do they know God’s promises?
There were endless questions in my mind. So many markers and so many lives taken. The longer I drove, it seemed they were everywhere.
About two hundred miles into our trip, I was caught off guard as I turned a corner and saw a family gathered together on the side of the road. It was a picturesque scene, like something out of a movie. At first glance, I thought they had a flat tire, however, due to the location being on a narrow corner as they stood in the gravel, I saw the cross and instantly knew.
My heart broke for them. I found myself wondering how they were coping as I knew first hand that familiar feeling and struggle of how painful it must be driving that stretch of road and returning to the place where their lives were shattered. The family had put up a cross, black with white writing, which also reminded me of a place where I don’t want to go. A place I have never returned. Yet I wonder what ours looks like. I’ve seen it in pictures and it tears me up.
Thanks to my husband, Lydia’s roadside memorial is intact and a reminder that she was here. A beautiful life lost, yet always to be remembered.
Covered with stuffed animals and flowers for months, people wore their hearts on their sleeves as they took their own time to go and leave a token of remembrance, showing their love for a little girl. Part of that sits in my house, a little pink bear, tattered and torn by wind and rain, now perched on the shelf, a soft and sullen reminder of my first-born.
So the next time, you are traveling and see a roadside memorial, take a moment to say a little prayer for that family and remember to someone, that little cross means the world.