Ancient History

Follow Me?



We rode in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile this past year. It seats 6, including the 2 Hotdogger crew members. We took turns. I got to go twice. They came to our house, which was the most amusing honor we’ve ever had. We cruised around the curvy streets of our subdivision, laughing at the reactions of people mowing their lawns, washing their cars, riding their bikes. We waved wildly. When the Wienermobile pulled away, I had to pinch myself. Did that really just happen? Scoring a ride in a Wienermobile was something on my bucket list. It was a very rare treat and I felt a bit smug about it.

We were one lucky family.

Two days later, we found the dead body of a homeless man. We were in Boulder, enjoying a day along the Boulder Creek path. There is nothing that can prepare you or your kids for such a horrific shock. For the rest of my life, I will carry the memory of what I saw and what I felt that day. Our son, who found the body first, still struggles at times to make sense of why.

Our way of handling the events of that day was to throw ourselves into a service project for the homeless. We also stayed in communication with detectives and Boulder’s coroner’s office. They provided his name, Jeffrey, and contact information for his family. We wrote to his brother and his aunt and they responded. They shared facts about Jeffrey’s sad, difficult life. They live 1,000 miles away and are people we would have never met if we hadn’t sat on a certain bench at a certain time on a certain day.

In the immediate aftermath, I kept thinking about the Wienermobile.

Riding inside is something few people get to experience. It was a significant experience because I knew:

We’d probably never have a chance to do it again.

The older kids would never forget.

I always wanted to ride in a Wienermobile.

So for two whole days, I thought something significant happened to us. Not life-changing or altering, but a Big Deal with capital letters. Christmas newsletter stuff.

And then, Jeffrey.

And then, I knew the true meaning of significant.

Something was signified, defined, revealed. It was a revelation. Scales fell away from my eyes. Now, when I hear or read the word “homeless” I want to take a swing at someone—especially if homeless people are being denigrated or insulted. I feel we haven’t done enough. The gift card drive was amazing and I deeply appreciate the friends who stepped forward and helped buy them for distribution.

When the gift drive was over, I had a sense we weren’t done yet. But I haven’t made a move. I haven’t lifted a finger, other than bagging up clothes for donation. I’d do that anyway this time of year, when I sort through piles and piles of my kids’ clothes, irritated by the ridiculous volume.

My heart is heavy on mornings like this, when I look out to a snowy scene, temperatures in the single digits, knowing there are children living in cars.

My heart is heavy when Christmas is coming and it’s Wienermobile smiles competing with black fly-covered eyes.

I’ve yet to see a mommy blog article with “Helpful Tips For When You Find a Dead Body.”

So I must write it.

1. Get your children out of the area.

2. Call 911.

3. Wait, then answer questions and give your contact information.

4. Go home.

5. Talk to children who are aware of what happened.

6. Talk to detectives, the coroner’s office, victim’s advocates.

7. Have a few nightmares.

8. Reach out to the deceased’s family.

9. Answer their questions.


11. Realize it will never, ever be enough. You could say: Insignificant.

12. Do it anyway.

(I turned comments off because this was one of those pour-my-heart out posts that gets barely a shrug from anyone.)

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