Writing on Windows


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I was chugging along doing errands yesterday when I pulled up behind a Chevy truck at a red light. The back window was covered by what I assumed was a memorial decal. I couldn’t make out the full name, because the font was very curly and difficult to read, but I saw that the young man had been 21 when he died. It reminded me of another “memorial window” experience I had a few years back.

We live on a dirt road, which means that in the summer the back window of my station wagon is usually covered with a layer of dust. I do wash my car occasionally, but not often, because it’s only going to get covered in fresh dust on the drive home from the car wash. My nod to visibility is to wash the back window when I stop to get gas. The accumulation of dust makes a perfect canvas for my daughter, Emily, who loves to draw designs and leave me messages.

I was on my way to work one morning and I passed a car on the interstate. Then I noticed the same car tailgating me. This  made me nervous, but I was almost at my exit. I put on my turn signal and got off to get gas, and the car followed me right into the gas station this made me nervous.  I pulled up to a pump and the car pulled in right behind me. A woman got out and walked toward my window. She apologized for making me nervous, but she said she wanted to thank me for what was on the back window.

I got out of the car and walked around to the back. In the dust, Emily, who was four at the time, had written “I <heart> U MI MI.” The heart was a drawing of a large heart, and I assumed MI was her attempt to spell ‘me’. As she got older, she started to write “Wash Me,” but at four it was still okay to make public statements of affection. I was at a loss as to what this could mean to a stranger, but the woman told me.

“My grandson died a few years ago, and he always called me Mimi.,” she said. She had been having a rough morning and feeling sad, and when I passed her on the highway, she noticed the message on the back window. She had to speed up to make sure she wasn’t seeing things, and then she decided to follow me to the gas station to let me know how much it meant to her. “I feel like my grandson sent me a message, and that made my day.”

It made my day, too, and I didn’t wash the back window that time. I left it on until the rain washed it off. I thought about that when I saw the decal on that truck window yesterday. I hope it helps the driver feel connected to his or her lost child.

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