The Processional

I remember the police car liked to scare me to death, honking like he did. Lights flashing.

Then, I recall pulling into the ditch on Alabama Highway 41. A string of cars ahead of me did the same thing.

The blue lights rolled by in the empty lane, moving at a turtle’s crawl. Close behind: a hearse and a line of vehicles stretching to the horizon.

A woman in a Mazda hopped out to spectate. “I ain’t never seen one this big before,” she said.

Two young men from a beat up Honda marched toward us. “What is happening?” one of them asked. “Why we stop?” His plates were from Texas, but his Latino accent from further south.

She answered, “Because honey, this is just what we do.”

It was the lengthiest procession I have ever seen. One pair of headlights, then another, then another. And another. I counted over one hundred cars, give or take a few. It lasted longer than the Christmas parades from my hometown, which were pitifully small affairs. We had to run the floats around our square twice just to make the whole thing last ten minutes.

While the cars whizzed by, the men from the Honda removed their caps.

The woman from the Mazda remarked, “Have you ever seen so many cars in all your life?”

Then, without warning, one of the young men began to recite a quiet prayer in Spanish. Whatever he said required that he close his eyes. And even though we couldn’t understand his words, we shut our eyes, too. When he finished, there was one “amen,” one “thank you Lord,” and a “gracias Señor.”

Because, this is just what we do.

And we’d do the same thing for someone you love.