No matter where you live, I know you've all seen them. Even if you haven't seen one in actuality, you've at least seen them on television during reports of tragic deaths either by gun violence, traffic accidents, or even acts of terrorism. They're often spontaneous, many times poignant, and always well-meaning.
I'm talking about the makeshift memorials that appear at the site of a terrible and sad death. They are very common in Cleveland, for example, these displays of stuffed animals, candles, balloons, and flowers intermingled with hand-lettered posters and cards and notes and photos, even some paintings and sketches of the deceased or murdered. Along two of the highways I drive frequently are faded wreaths, their significance unknown to me. I have no idea who they mourn, and now they look dirty and bedraggled. I find myself feeling worse about the condition of the memorial than what could have happened there.
Then I feel guilty for being shallow. Then I feel resentful about the way our culture deals with death. Then I berate myself for being so complex in my own feelings about death. Then I push a bunch of buttons on the radio and try to think about something else.
Today, however, I saw an entirely different sort of Memorial. I was absolutely amazed, and you know that word is not one that I use lightly. Here it is; tell me what you think:
It suddenly appeared before me in traffic, and thank heaven I had enough time to snap a photo. The back window is painted, for those of you who cannot make it out clearly, with the words "Rest In Heaven Angy Anne' 11-25-98 8-29-15."
Never before in my life have I seen this sort of Mobile Memorial. I have seen cars painted to announce softball championships, high school senior jubilation, graduation joy, wedding elation, birthday announcement, driver's license success, the fact that a certain team is bound for state competition, and to inform me that "Lordy, Lordy, Someone Is Forty", but never that someone is dead and that the driver wishes her to be at peace in the afterlife.
Let me add this to the List Of Things No One Should Do When He Or She Hears That I Am Dead. Driving around with a back-window announcement of my passing is, to me, actually worse than posting it on PinTwitFace. It is actually more undignified, if that is possible. It is worse than passing it in a note during study hall or class or, if you go, church. I would absolutely rather it be announced during, oh, almost any event except perhaps a Toby Keith or Miley Cyrus concert. I would rather have it be a singing telegram sent to someone and performed in a gorilla suit--no!--a gorilla in a tutu--than have anyone drive around with the news of my passing shoe-polished on the back window of his Chevrolet. Or Honda. Or even her Nissan Leaf, as environmentally friendly as that car is.
Please, in Comments, tell me I am Not Alone.