A Bicycle Memorial

The closer one travels to a human pace, the more one notices along a route. Ride on a bus or drive in a car and you’ll miss the leaves starting to turn colour on a tree by a little bungalow. Ride a bike and you might zoom past a Little Free Library so quickly that you think it’ll be too much trouble to turn back. Often a vehicle imparts a heightened sense of purpose that demands that one take the fastest, most direct route to a place – to get the journey over with as soon as possible

Going on foot, however, provides a chance to see a neighbourhood in a bit more detail, and one’s speed on a side street is the same as on a main road so why not visit the side streets for a change of scenery?

We’ve lived in this part of town for over three years and though I’ve passed by the William Burgess Elementary School several times, it wasn’t until yesterday when I was on a run that a piece of artwork on the school grounds caught my eye.

I am not one to single-mindedly run as my Instagram followers know. If something catches my eye, I will stop and check it out, sharing it if it is of interest. And this one really caught my eye – the image of two bikes sharing a front wheel being really striking. I knew from a distance it had to be meaningful.

When I got closer I noticed that while there might have once been a plaque there, it seems to have been removed. A message of “You will be missed” is scrawled in marker. On the base of each bicycle’s support is a name. One says “Faris” and the other says “Zain”.

When I got home I did a search to find out what that was about. It turns out that back in 2014, in the building right next door to our own – the building in which we lived from 2004-2009, Faris (age 13) and Zain (age 8), and their mother, Zahra were killed by her husband and their father who killed himself.

I remember feeling really sad when it happened – Faris and Daegan were almost the same time at the time and I can’t imagine such a tragedy and such a loss for everyone around them. I’m glad they’re remembered by their classmates and others at the school, and by others who, like me, might pass by.

The bikes in the installation are the children’s bikes that were left locked to a fence at the school grounds and according to an article, were a big part of the boys’ lives. (Do read the article – it’s quite sad but also shows how much the boys touched the lives of others in their school and how they were remembered).

If you’re out and about, do take time to wander and if something catches your eye, do try to stop. You may be surprised at what you learn.

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