On October 9, 2022 Cole Cammarata-Hodgeman, age 17, died in a rock climbing accident.  Several months later I first came across this makeshift monument - presumably erected by his classmates - in a remote section of the woods behind the High School.  I did not know Cole, his family, or his friends. It was only after I discovered this shrine that I learned their story.
I learned that Cole was the same age as my children.  I felt the deep pang of apprehension that every parent feels when they learn of the death of someone their child’s age.  I thought of his family and felt their anguish.  I prayed for his parents.
I thought of the teenage children that built this primal shrine.  I know how difficult it can be for teenagers to process grief.  I can only begin to imagine the numbness of their pain.  I am in awe of the spontaneous outpouring of grief, and the beauty of the monument they have constructed for their departed friend.  I can feel the community, activity and emotion that compelled this creation.
Over time I’ve returned to to this spot to watch as the river reclaims the shrine.  I’m transported back to my younger self with my high-school friends; some who are no longer of this world.  We’d hang out at a spot with a rope swing on the bank of a creek.  I can see their seventeen year old faces as we joke and laugh.  I see Jack the Dog sniffing the perimeter of our sacred space.  And, I feel the exhilaration as I take a last turn on the swing before heading home.
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