We live among ghosts. They’ve always been here, but as I get older they become more apparent. Dotted along the side of the roads are shrines, everywhere, echoing tragedy and loss. Even the simple ones posted by the state reminding us of the cost of drinking and driving, stand as markers where loved ones fell. They were the sons and daughters of someone, possibly the brothers, sisters, husbands and wives of someone left behind.
When I was a young man, I drank and when I became a Marine I drank and drove. It wasn’t smart, it wasn’t responsible, but I was immortal – bullet proof even. In my barracks alone no less then 16 of my fellow Marines had been injured in alcohol related car accidents in a single year. There were broken backs, broken necks, punctured lungs and other vital organs. Still, we drank, and we drove. That we survived our youth is a testament to the grace such young fools live under.
Still, not all of us do survive. A family up the block from my home buried there son last month. Not even 19, he and his best friend in the world died on the same spot one cold dark Saturday morning. The fire that engulfed their car after it slammed into a reinforced power pole left so little of them behind, it took two days before they were officially identified. They were my sons friends too and I thank whatever angels watch over him that he was not there that morning as well.
Our time on this plane is short, of those planes that lay beyond I can not know with any certainty. I believe there is someplace beyond the brief existence of the flesh, somewhere that the soul is free. Those that have fallen along the way still exist, they walk among us and call out to us in our memories.
We live among ghosts, remember that as you drive by that marker along the side of the road. Someone fell there, lost for a time to those who loved them and miss them dearly. They will bury three more young men this week, in a town not too far from here. No lessons learned, immortal and bullet proof the game goes on.
Never leave what should be said for later. Our chance to tell the ones we love how we feel is so very brief and though no one is ever truly gone, the chance will never come again.