I am never alone when I drive.
I do a lot of chauffeuring of my kids, but I also spend a lot of time alone behind the wheel and I always have some unseen passengers.
In my front console I have a variety of items ranging from pens to Chapstick to an eyeglass cleaning cloth, but there is also a number of memorial cards for people whose funerals I attended.
I find myself deeply affected by them all.
I feel for the deceased and for their family, even if I don’t know them all that well. I may have worked with them or known them through family or a friend, but I take their mourning to heart and I truly have empathy for them.
I know what it’s like to lose someone you love and it is devastating, and it will always be with you.
So when I drive around with my carload full of people who I remember and feel this connection to, I hope they are looking out for me in some way.
This does not stop at the cards in my console.
As I pass by roadside memorials of where people had fatal accidents, some of whom I have known, I think of these poor souls as well.
Many of them were young and taken before their time. They had many more years of life and family to take care of.
One memorial I am deeply affected by is of a woman who I do not even know but the circumstances were so unbelievable I just cannot stop thinking of it every time I pass by this spot.
It started one morning on my way to work when I was detoured around an area that was closed to traffic.
When I finally got to work, I checked the news reports and found that a woman had been killed by a gas tanker that took a curve too fast and overturned onto her car as she was driving the other way.
The timing of this accident could not have been more perfect.
If this woman had been a minute later or a minute earlier, she would have most likely missed the truck.
She was coming home from work and was killed by this person who went down this hill too fast to negotiate the turn. The driver of the truck survived, but he left a child motherless.
I guess we never know when our ticket on earth is going to be punched and we will leave this place, but we should try to live and get as much done before we are taken prematurely.
I pass by this spot almost daily and watched as the area was cleaned up because the tanker spilled gas.
The work was completed but someone still has left a small arrangement of flowers at the spot that marks where this woman died.
I’m sure most people drive by and do not notice, but I see it and think about her every time.
For other ruminations about mortality and death, listen to this AMR podcast write an essay on education for democracy in india and read these blogs posts about close calls on the road (“Remember: Thou Art Mortal”) and mourning (“Where Do You Put the Pepsi and the Pain?”)
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