A few weeks ago, a fatal crash occurred when a driver, accused of being intoxicated, veered off the road near the Naperville Municipal Center (where the city council meets) into a downtown water-filled quarry resulting in the death of two friends of the driver. As is often the case, a make-shift memorial appeared at the launch site of the crash. It consisted of flowers, pictures, T-shirts, cards and other mementos of remembrance.
Typically those memorials, out of respect, remain for a period of time. But not this time, and not at this location. Overnight the memorial disappeared. Almost as if the accident never occurred.
Perhaps the Naperville city council didn’t want the reminder…perhaps they forgot their own ordinance regarding leaving items for 30 days before they can be removed (a la our street dweller). Naperville city officials solved the issue of the homeless, by calling them ‘street dwellers’.
Since the accident happened at the southwest corner of the Municipal Center, perhaps Naperville city officials deemed it distasteful to see the memorial as they pulled into the parking lot, or as they looked out their office windows during ‘downtime’ which is most of the time. Out of sight, out of mind. If they can’t see it, then it didn’t happen, and they don’t have to deal with it. It’s like not looking into your mail box so you don’t have to see your bills. It’s Naperville’s version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.
The problem is that those spontaneous memorials are just as much for those remaining, as it is for those who departed. In a way, it’s a form of ‘closure’, or a symbol for the briefness of life, and certainty of our limited existence. To have that memorial disappear so quickly overnight, in order that some don’t have to remember, is a dis-service to those who want or need to remember, if only for a short period of time.