Friday, March 19, 2010


In this part of the country -- maybe everywhere -- when someone is killed in a car wreck, more often than not family or friends will put a cross up by the roadside where it happened. Sometimes there's a name, sometimes flowers, occasionally a photo. If you keep your eyes open, you'll see these little memorials here and there, scattered around, slowly fading and weathering.

I always, my whole life, drove by crosses on the roadside and wondered what happened. Was someone drunk? Just tired, or unlucky? Were they young or old? Just idle thoughts as I drive down highways and back roads.

The other day, as I was driving to work, I passed a roadside memorial I hasn't seem before. For some reason I pulled over to glance at it. The name sounded familiar, though I didn't recognize the photo tacked to the scarred tree.

But then I realized -- if I replaced the lazy afternoon sunlight with 3am mist and strobing LED lights, if I swapped the soft sounds of the breeze and quiet birds for the grumbling mutter of diesels and Hurst tools, if I put fifteen people on the roadway and one wrapped between the car and the tree -- then I knew the place well, because it was my call, and my patient, and we knew even as we struggled to tube her and cut her free that she would never live.