This godforsaken gravel shoulder is as good a place—as bad a place—as any to have made your peace with life and dying. Still, you probably objected. Not here, you said, by which you meant, Not yet. This terse white cross of wood driven into the earth just off the edge of the highway brings that moment back, but not as witness; I was that. I saw you stagger the line that night where the edge of the berm is scribed by the edge of the gravel; astride the green and the grave you staggered, nearly departed, between the two sides of the sod. Your family has left mementos here of the life they believe you were living. Let them have that. I only know what I saw at night from a car approaching at many miles per hour. Your front doors were open, engine left running, two tires on the shoulder, two in the grass, all gently rolling. The lights were on and in the driver’s seat, a fire had started and was spreading. You staggered ahead. A sober man would have staggered behind. Whatever you were thinking, I doubt you thought you’d be run over by your own car. Who was with you, tripping even further ahead, stumbling toward the trees and carrying her shoes? It’s all the same to me, friend; I didn’t stop then and my stopping now is of no consequence. I only worry for the sorry sap who slammed into your driverless car when it steered itself onto the highway. Your cross intends to warn us not to be him, but the rules appear to prohibit his family from planting a cross of their own because he survived, and that’s what he’s doing with what’s left of his life. Thanks for asking.
Copyright © April 10, 2008 David Hodges