Memorials are something we often see, sometimes overlook, and occasionally ignore but some just grab your attention and don’t let go. Recently, while returning from photographing the sun rising over the San Jacinto River, I noticed this ghost bike at a nearby intersection. The strange thing about this bike to me was that I had passed this intersection earlier in the morning, as well as the day prior, and didn’t recall seeing it. As someone who enjoys riding bikes, I try to stop and pay attention to these memorials because they represent a life lost at that location.

A ghost bike in Houston, TX decorated for Christmas

What made this an even more poignant moment was seeing the Christmas decorations on it along with a small “Happy Birthday” placard near the top of the frame, just beneath the handle bars. As well as the fact that this bike was made for a smaller rider. I couldn’t help but think of the family who will be without their loved one this Christmas, as well as however many birthdays, holidays, and other days have been lost. I also thought of all of the families who have suffered due to a tragedy such as this as well as the community of bicyclists who continue to ride knowing the dangers of impaired, impatient, or distracted drivers. I applaud the fact that Houston is doing more to try to make the roads safer for bicyclists, and better educate drivers as it relates to giving them space to ride, but scenes like these are a stark reminder of how far we as a community have to go in this regard.

A lot can go through one’s mind in a short amount of time but I knew I wanted to capture this scene; to do more than simply see this bike and think about all it portends. I want to give it and this moment a lasting voice to possibly reach more than those who might pass it one day and pay attention to it. I hope this scene reminds us that life is too fragile and short to allow ourselves to take any moment or loved one as less than precious. To even see those around us, who we consider strangers, just as valuable and to not take what’s important for granted while pursuing things that aren’t truly lasting.

May we all be reminded of these things but, more importantly, find the hope that is available to us through firm, everlasting promises. Promises that remind us that there is life to come to those whose hopes rest in the name of the One who is, was, and yet to come. At this time of year, may this promise resonate in our hearts even more and be ignited in the hearts of those around us.