I cried when I drove past this sign in the Target parking lot on the way to pick up my prescription for an untimely bout of walking pneumonia. I cried weeks worth of tears that had been building and building and building from a constant pace of busy. I cried because the words on this otherwise meaningless sign were a visible reminder of how the world often makes me feel in the midst of grief: don't stop, don't slow down, don't cry too much, don't remember too much, don't be sad too much, it's been more than 7 months, just keep moving.
Some days I feel like the clueless kid meandering down the aisle of a store, oblivious to the grownups around them that clearly have to be somewhere and don't have time to wander around at a snail's pace. Other days I find myself struggling to move at all, and I feel more like the giant rock inconveniently placed in the middle of someone's path. Except, unlike the rock, I'm very aware and I vasicilate between shame and stupidity and clumsiness and incompetence. No, those things aren't true. But the feelings are real. Just keep moving.
After I cried a good cry, I began reflecting on the people in my life who are choosing to walk with me on this dark road through my own personal hell. I say "walk with, not "walk through" because you don't ever forget that your brother is dead. Grief is not a pit we pull ourselves or other people out of. It's a dark, dark valley that we enter alongside of another and choose to wake up each day and keep going. These people, these friends that I was thinking of, they're the ones that look at the sign for me and say "Not today, she's moved enough". They are my space keepers. In a culture that has very little time for things that take time, they're my place to stop, slow down, cry a lot, remember, and be sad. From that gaping hole in my uncertain heart, thank you. You are what compassion looks like.