A few years ago a friend and I were riding down the road, and upon seeing crosses on the side, she said, “I always hate to pass crosses stuck on the side of the road like that…it just makes me uncomfortable.” I sat in silence, not knowing how to respond because it didn’t make me uncomfortable, but at the same time, I just didn’t have a strong feeling about it.
Now I do.
My daughter died on a weekend getaway near Myrtle Beach while visiting a friend. They were both killed in a car accident while on the way to the beach. Her friend was from the area, so his family and friends erected a cross for each of them, with their names on them. They still stand on the side of the road in front of a mass of pine trees. This is where my daughter met Jesus, where He took her hand and led her to His majestic, glorious Heaven now her forever home. In that instant, she felt a love that none of us here has experienced. It was in that radiant blink that she opened her eyes to eternal life. In my heart, her cross is on holy ground.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
–2 Timothy 4.18
Side-road crosses now hold a special meaning, a distinctive feeling for me. It’s a combination of sadness steeped with joy. I am one of a gazillion mothers in this world who have stood at the foot of their child’s cross and wept, just as Mary wept 2000 years ago at the foot of her son’s cross. The circumstances are incomparable…but the hearts the same.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…” –John 19.25
I pass side-road crosses every day and to be honest, never before thought beyond the sadness of death. I’ve seen crudely built crosses with weathered plastic wreaths hanging on them and also thoughtfully, carefully built crosses with names and dates engraved. Sometimes, I’ve passed by ones that have teddy bears and balloons where I think a child must have died. Before my own daughter’s death and in the midst of sadness, I never thought, “that is where she met Jesus.” I do now.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4.18
As most mothers do, I spend a great deal of time in my car. It is a sort of refuge at times, where I pray when I’m by myself (or not), where I do my ‘thinking’ about life situations and where I reflect upon the side-road crosses I pass. I do not drive by lightly. I pray for the families as they find their ‘new normal’ without their loved one. I picture in my mind the mother who mourns, but in time will find joy again, and I reflect about the cross being the spot where they met Jesus. Right there, in that exact moment is a joyous salve for any mother’s soul.