Usually songs or smells are triggers. Not a billboard on the big intersection you go through every day on your drive home from work.
In fact, I’m not even sure if the billboard advertisement was new or if it had been there for weeks. But, I noticed it for some reason yesterday. It’s probably because I was second in line at the red stop light, waiting to turn left. (It’s this crazy intersection where five directions/roads meet. If you get stopped at red, you could be waiting for a bit).
Kids will be kids. We’ll make sure of it.
The two short sentences struck me instantly. I didn’t even have time to think. I was crying. I was waiting for the light to turn green and tears were streaming down my face.
Next to this simple phrase was a picture of a little girl. It was a closeup and her face was covered in dirt and her hair was disheveled. Clearly, she was having fun being a kid.
I couldn’t stop crying. I kept re-reading these two sentences over and over again in my head. As if by the fifth time, maybe it wouldn’t be as sad. It wouldn’t be as poignant. The light signal seemed like it was taking forever to change colors.
This was a billboard advertisement for the local children’s hospital. And, in my opinion, it does a good job getting their message across. This hospital will take care of your kids — so that they can continue to be kids.
But, what if that doesn’t happen?
What if the kid’s life is cut short?
What if the kid never gets a chance to grow up, to graduate college, to get a job and be married and have a family of her own one day?
These were the questions spiraling in my head.
The light finally changed and I followed the car in front of me up the hill toward my house. I was surprised that all these memories and pain came flooding back to me from one small piece of advertisement.
Yes, it was the same hospital she was getting her care at.
Yes, at the time, even at 17, she was still a kid. We were all kids.
But, it’s been nine years. Isn’t the mourning period supposed to be over?
Maybe it’s never over for those who have made a significant impact on your life. For those who truly were the best friend they could be to their friends.
The camping and running in downpours, the iron-on T-shirts, the graphic design-y stuff, and just the act of being nice to everyone … I will always remember everything you taught us and all the fun we had as kids.
I’ll make sure of it.