I’ve had some time to think about you

I always wonder about those “Slow: Funeral” signs. Should I actually slow down? Is it rude of me to continue on at my normal speed? Does anyone even notice? Do they have the signs in other parts of the country? When my mom’s cousin (who lives across the street from my parents) lost his father, they put “Slow: Funeral” signs on the road, and people really did slow down. I remember being impressed, just a little bit, that those signs work. Of course, the people slowing down didn’t know if it was our house or their house that was experiencing grief, but it was very nice of them just the same.

I was all set to say that it’s an antiquated custom, but then I remembered something from a book I read a long time ago. In it, a man was remembering how his mother died when he was very young, and he was shocked that the milkman delivered the milk just the same and the mailman didn’t seem to know. How could everything be the same when his mother was gone? When something painful happens, like losing a loved one, it can be completely shattering. It seems that the whole world should know that everything has changed, because everything has changed for you. And the very least I can do, as a fellow human being, is acknowledge that grief by slowing my car down, as if to say, “I don’t know you, but I do know a little bit about the human experience, and I’m sorry for your loss. I hope it was someone who lived a full life, and who didn’t suffer at all. I hope you have friends and family to support you during this time.” (I have time to think all those things, because I’m driving slowly. I have time to look at their well-cared for yard and their front porch with its rocking chairs and the tall trees in the backyard. I have time to notice instead of being lost in my own thoughts or singing along to whatever is playing on my iPod.)

So, I’ve decided I like the “Slow: Funeral” signs. The part of me that likes them is the same part that chooses not to do self-checkout, that likes going to a small church. It’s important to be connected to people. And because of that, even if I don’t know the people who live in the house across the street from my neighborhood, I have slowed down when I passed their house this week, to acknowledge that grief in a small way. It’s a bit of an inconvenience, but it’s inconvenience for the sake of being a little more human.

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