This article was updated on 16 September, 2022. It features roadside memorials.
We have a roadside memorial in the form of a floral tribute in my community. It is firmly attached by rounds and rounds of sticky tape to the pedestrian button at the traffic lights. It started with a public note attached.
The flowers are a metre or two down the street from a pole with A4 posters, one advertising the ubiquitous “lost cat” (doesn’t every community have one of those?) and above that, one asking if anyone has found a lost stroller. This one makes me chuckle: I’ve lost enough children in public places in my time but never misplaced the conveyance that got us there.
In the early days the little note was firmly attached to the flowers – before wind and rain and curious hands wore it away. It thanked the people who came to his aid, when their father collapsed at this spot weeks before.
A few lines further down, it talks of him in the past tense – so we know this street corner, a metre or two from bustling takeaway restaurants, a pub, the local grocery store and impenetrable crowds of schoolkids, was the beginning of his end.
Sir, I hope my community was good to you. I hope you saw them call the ambulance and that while they waited for it, I hope someone loosened your jacket, that another offered you water.
I hope someone dared to touch you, to hold your hand while whispering words of comfort. Even if these words were in an unknown language, I hope you grasped their meaning – that we cared for you, a fallen stranger in our midst, and that you were not alone.