Roadside tombstones

220px-Roadside_MemorialLike many of you I suspect, I do the same regular journey along the same route most days of the week. It is a journey which will have one aspect in common with every other journey everyone else will do. That is the bouquet of flowers that are fixed to a  lampost, fencing or an over bridge. I have even seen flowers tied to a marker post by the side of the hard shoulder of a motorway. When we see those flowers we all know what they mean and why
they are there.

A universal symbol of tribute, loss and love. I have marvelled how we as human beings use the beauty of a flower to celebrate both life and death and perhaps soberly remind ourselves that there cannot be one without the other.

Flowers at the roadside slow moving traffic down better than any council roadsign could ever do. We spare a thought for the briefest of time for those unknown lost before spending the rest of our journey contemplating our own mortality. The worst fatal collisions l have dealt with are those where the deceased have been caught on cctv, oblivious to the fact that literary within a few seconds they will exchange this life for the next.

Yet my eyes and that of many other Police Officers see those flowers everyday. Once a year a fresh bouquet is placed where a loved one fell. For a few weeks those flowers florish before wilting and die.

Analogous to using pubs when giving directions to our friends, we that have attended the scene remember every single lampost, junction and tree that have taken the life of another. Those flowers are as bright to us even when they have wilted. They remind us in vivid detail of the investigation, the death warning message passed and the ongoing support we gave to the family.

Families never forget and neither do we. So the next time you see a bouquet of flowers at the roadside. Whether they are fresh or wilted. They represent a beautiful life lost. Anonymous to you yet closer to your life than you think.

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