Thursday, April 9, 2009


I take a bus south on the 405, through the Sepulveda pass, to get to work. On the uphill portion of the pass, the ground surrounds the freeway as it occupies the lower portion between hills. I started noticing across the road, on the hill by the shoulder of the northbound side, a white cross. I saw numbers and letters, among which were "RIP."

It was always just a little bit too far for me to see clearly, plus the motion of the bus meant I only had a matter of seconds to see it at all. But it was in my mind whenever I noticed it that I should make note of the numbers (likely birth and death dates).

Eventually I would write the digits down. I got them slightly wrong the first time around, but took another look a day or two later, and fixed my error. When I was at work and thought about it, I punched the birth date and the death month (it didn't allow for exact death date entry) into a searchable Social Security death index online. It turned up several people, but only one whose death date matched the one from the cross. And he was the only one who had died in California.

I searched Google with this name, and found a news posting. He crashed his motorcycle into a truck one afternoon late last summer, and died on the northbound 405.

I'm posting about this because the cross has been removed; I first noticed its absence a few weeks ago. As I was writing this, I stopped to think if I could remember the numbers. As I brought them to the front of my mind, I realized that today is his birthday, the first since his death. The little marker by the 405 is gone, but I still remember Thomas Brough, although I never knew him.

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