Ashes to trash

As I drove to work this morning, I got caught in the usual 30-car backlog that builds up at one of the main intersections near my home. This time, I ended up stopped right near the rear entrance of the graveyard for the local church. It happened that a utility truck was waiting to leave the graveyard from the exit, and since the three cars ahead of me declined to let the truck out ahead of them (even though they didn’t get very far afterward, until the light finally changed about five minutes later), I waved the driver on and let him in front of me. It was a pickup truck, and as he moved ahead, I expected to see lawnmowers and other landscaping tools in the truck bed in front of me.

Instead, the bed walls formed a small trash compactor, upon which was heaped a pyramid of wreaths, bouquets, flowers: mementos and tributes from families and friends to their departed loved ones. The truck driver was just doing his job: clearing out all the flowers to keep things tidy and prevent overgrowth. But I couldn’t help but to find irony in the stark, startling image of all these beautiful flowers, most of which were still vibrant and had not yet died, being carted away to their compression and demise.

Maybe, just as the flowers themselves are often given as a sign of love from the living to the dead, they served the image two-fold by being abruptly taken away from their intended purpose and place, often in their prime and far from having lost their capacities and ability to continue on.


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