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Something “nudged” me to take the longer way to work today. Perhaps it was Autumn leaves and their beautiful colors, telling me to savor their essence, and not simply “get to work in a hurry.” So instead of taking the dangerous 287 South into Fort Collins, I went left and headed towards Wellington.

I was taken aback by the beauty. The golds, yellows, bright reds, burnt sienna and every hue in between. Something I didn’t see often as a Southern girl who grew up in Texas.

I felt really lucky to be alive and to take in such beauty.

As I made the last left turn into Wellington, I saw a young girl splayed out, next to the right side of  the road. A red, older-make Bronco was parked on the opposite side. She was crying, sobbing actually. Her lips was swollen and bleeding. I kept going, but then I thought, “what if no one stops to help her?” I HAVE TO GO BACK.

I did.

I said, “Hey girl, what’s happening here?” She looked up at me and sobbed, and simply couldn’t speak. Much to my surprise, two people quickly jumped out of the red Bronco. People I hadn’t seen when I pulled up. I immediately became suspicious and felt in danger as they looked angry. I had heard about people “pretending to be hurt,” to get someone to stop, and then others come along and rob the good-doer. I didn’t have my gun on me, but I had a police-issued can of mace and tear gas. (Better than most chicks I’d have to say.)

At this point, I’m embarrassed to admit this lousy train of thought, because what actually happened was not ANYTHING NEAR what my sick, twisted mind had conjured.

They told me their son had been killed in that very spot two years ago. They had come today to wish him a happy birthday. He would’ve been 30 years old today, they explained. His cross had been yanked from the Earth and had been thrown into the field across the barbed-wire. His sister had gone across to try and find it. With her tear-stained face, she crawled through the wire, fell and cut her face. The mother was crying as she told me what happened and in vain tried to finish her story and explain to me why they were so forlorn. I saw the blue, plastic flowers that a cruel person had taken off of their memorial to their son, and had thrown and mashed them into the red dirt in the pasture. I wondered how someone could do that. I saw the obvious grief and pain on the Mom, Dad and sister’s faces. I cried with them, and they thanked me for stopping, although I feel I was a mere intrusion on their sorrow-filled day.

I drove away and thought of the symbolism I had been a part of today. How Autumn becomes more beautiful because of death and rotting leaves. How this young man’s life was cut short by a motor vehicle accident, yet his death occurred in our Autumn, one of the most beautiful seasons we are privileged to enjoy. I felt happy to have my immediate family alive and able to spend time with. I had a sense of peace, yet felt that death leaves the living so empty.

I prayed for them as I drove away, and that they might notice the Autumn leaves today…..Image

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2 thoughts on “It was his birthday.

  1. Such a sad tragedy to lose a young person. What I appreciate most about your post is that you chose to connect with these people. Life is made up of interpersonal connections and so many of us choose to keep driving and miss opportunities for human connection. What a gift to have had that moment.

  2. Bernadette,
    You “hit the nail on the head.” In fact, my mother encouraged me to drive by and not stop. I simply couldn’t do that. I feel fortunate that I could cry with them and show them that not everyone was as cruel as the person who ruined their marker. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts!

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