Last year, on Halloween, Jessie Elston, 56, was walking down on suburban road outside Cleveland when he was struck and killed by an SUV that fled the scene. Since then, a homemade memorial had stood near the spot he was killed. For eight months, Connie Schultz of the Cleveland Plain Dealer drove right on by. A few weeks ago, she stopped, to find out more, and filed this column.

She sees roadside memorials as both a curse, and a blessing.

These days it is so easy to distance ourselves from one another. We have voice-mail and e-mail and caller ID, but no amount of technology can insulate us from the universal promise that, one day, it will all come to an earthly end for every last one of us.

Roadside memorials are as raw and imperfect as the humans who erect them. We cannot look away, and that is both their curse and their blessing. If we must think of the person who died on the same route we are traveling, then we must also face that someday we'll run out of road, too. That can change a mood real fast.


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