Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Sombering Reminder

Yesterday around the noon time hour I went from my house to fill up my car and go to the store. As I pulled up to the intersection to cross to get to the gas station I noticed police tape on both sides of the street blocking the parking lots. There was an officer in a car just parked there and I wondered what was going on, but quickly let it pass because turning left on this intersection is a dangerous proposition (honestly, this intersection has one bad accident at least twice a month).

I barely made it on the yellow light and as I parked my car to get gas I heard the siren on the police car and was sure I was about to get a ticket for something I didn't realize I did.

I went about my business of filling up my car waiting for the officer to scold me, but then I noticed that he was blocking off the intersection. Thoughts poured into my head about how the world was going to end or many other worst case thoughts that all involved bad things.

Quickly I was blocked into the gas station as traffic at the light backed up. I simply parked my car and awaited whatever it was that required the intersection to be blocked off.

As a helicopter flew overhead I remembered that an officer at the CIT meeting on Tuesday had a black ribbon around his badge. I then quickly remembered what it was like back in March when I did my police ride along (see the story at and the way the streets were blocked and the helicopter overhead was very much alike the officer funeral then. I knew that a fallen officer's funeral motorcade was about to pass.

I stood by and waited for what I was sure to be a motorcade. While other motorists pounded their wheels and complained to whoever would listen to them on their cell phones I stood silently and waited for what is surely one of the most sombering sights a person can see.

Then, there it was. Off to the East on Chippewa Road were police lights. Then more, and soon as the first car passed were lights as far as the eye could see. For those that had been complaining and screaming a hush fell upon them. One person who was angry and on the phone came up to me and asked, "What the $%&! is going on?" I simply responded with one word, "Funeral." and he quickly changed his attitude and said, "Oh! I'm sorry." I don't know if he was apologizing to me, or to the officer for the language he had used.

What is normally a busy and noisy intersection turned into a silent and still one. The only noise in the air was the sound of the engines of the cars and the sound of the tires on the road. Except for those cars no one dared move and the world was still.

The hearse then appeared and I turned my attention to the officer who had blocked the traffic because I knew from my experience in March that one of the most chilling sights a person can witness happened. Quietly, but with force, the officer turned and saluted with the fiercest amount of posture and importance a person can.

I was once moved by this and went down the path of realizing just how fragile life is. Car after car though kept coming by and I have no estimate on how many vehicles there were, but there were vehicles from all around the state, and even a MODOT line painting truck joined in.

Fifteen minutes had passed since the first car passed me so I decided to walk to the store as it is just six blocks away.

People that were home stood on their front porches and watched the silent spectacle of police cars go by. Traffic that was headed to the East by this point in time were in a jam that stretched further than I could ever imagine it could be in this part of town, but as I peered into the cars no one seemed upset.

As I neared the bottom of the hill and the intersection the final cars in the motorcade passed. Traffic started to be let go out of the jams an people carried on their business.

On my walk home it was like all was forgotten. The jam was gone and the onlookers had disappeared. The helicopters were gone and driver's were back to their rageful self. All the somberness, tranquility, and stillness of the world had gone back to the hectic and hasty world that it usually is. This saddened me because I think I understand the concept of "moving on". For me, I was still emotionally full from the sight of seeing such a powerful sight, but for others that moment had passed. I was thinking about the family and friends of the officers and just how bad they must feel, and even those that had seen the motorcade were back to their lives as if the event never happened.

I don't really know how to end this entry. There are no words that can describe what it is like to witness so many cars drive by in a funeral procession. Maybe this hits home more now because I am an instructor on autism to the officers. Whatever the case life is short, life is beautiful, and most of all cherish it.


  1. Wonderful story Aaron. I felt like I was there watching too. Very heartfelt.


  2. Your description of this event kept me reading and like & agree with how you ended "life is beautiful, and most of all cherish it."

  3. Couldn't agree more with Mandi_Carlton. I was touched the first time you wrote about a police funeral and I'm touched again.

  4. Aaron,
    That was amazing! I really felt like I was hovering over your shoulder, sharing your experience. Maybe because I am often "left over" with the emotion of an experience when others have moved on.
    Thanks for sharing this, I look forward to reading your posts every day.

  5. What an amazing piece of writing. The ability to capture that moment in time in words is...well beyond words.

  6. Thank you for writing and sharing this. My husband is an officer and our oldest son has asperger's syndrome. Your thoughtfulness an reverence at the officer's funeral our touching. Thank you!