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When will ordinary everyday things get back to being ordinary everyday things again? I had to go shopping today as I am leaving the house for a few days. I have staff and animals that need to be looked after, even when I am gone. So got my list, chartered my course in my mind and off I went.
The first stop to change the butane gas cylinder was not a problem. That done I continued on my way to the large supermarket I usually patronize.
Things were going well as I walked in, but the first isle had all the different kinds of milk. This usually was my first stop. I had to buy milk for my Mom, but more so for her nurse who seemed to drink it in place of water. I remembered the irritation it used to cause me when she finished off her own milk and started on my Mom’s. My Mom drank skimmed milk while her nurse insisted on full cream for herself. For every half a dozen boxes for my Mom I got the nurse one dozen, and still she finished it and started on my Mom’s. All this passed fleetingly in my mind just by going through that isle.
Then I went to the bread stand, which is always a stop as I buy bread for my staff. But now instead of my usual 20 packs of bread, I now buy the nine for the three boys. Another reduction. I continue on my way to the tea and coffee section. No more coffee. I still have quite a few jars that will probably last me a long time as it was my Mom who drank coffee. Turning from the coffee and tea I go down the isle for biscuits and chocolates. That was always one of my stops. My Mom loved a special kind of biscuit for breakfast, and had a sweet tooth for a special kind of chocolate that came in bars which I used to buy for her by the box. I just saunter through, glancing at the biscuits, they do have the kind she liked. It wasn’t always the case.
Then on to the eggs. We used to consume a tray of 30 eggs in less than a couple of weeks. My Mom used to have one boiled egg with white cheese for her supper every other day. I never had any as I have high cholesterol. The nurse polished off the rest.
Then down to the bakery where I had to buy the breadsticks that I have for breakfast and for which the nurse had developed a taste, so instead of one box that would last me a month, I had to buy three, one for me and two for her.
Beyond that is the fresh fruit and vegetable section. Invariably I bought zucchini and carrots for the dogs, bananas for my Mom, tomatoes and cucumber for the salad which we never ate from except once, by the time we asked for salad again half way through the week, they would be finished. Yes the nurse again.
From there, on to the isle for cheeses and yogurt. A large box of white cheese for the week,for her and my Mom, whereas I buy one large box of white cheese for the three boys every two weeks, and that is enough for them!
Finally, on the ground floor I go to the ready-made food section. OMG, the amounts I used to buy, and we always seemed to be running out! Now I haven’t bought food for myself in three weeks and cannot seem to be able to make a dent in what is already there in the freezer. I really cannot believe that!
Upstairs is another experience altogether. Too many things remind me of how much shopping I used to do for her. First the ‘Detol’ wipes, the adult diapers, the talcum powder, the eau de cologne, the special softener she liked, the special batteries for the alarm clock she liked to have in the living room to keep tabs on the time.
Worst of all is the children’s toys section, where I always browsed for any new jigsaw puzzles which she absolutely loved.
All this by just walking through the supermarket to do the shopping! I wonder when all these little memories would stop hurting? Will they ever? Will there come a time when I pass by an isle of her favorite chocolate and not feel that twist of pain because I no longer stop to buy it? Or smell her favorite softener and not see her pleasure when she smelled it on her linen handkerchiefs? She had this thing about never using a tissue. She always used to say if you blow your nose in a tissue, it is like blowing your nose in your hand, totally barbarian. I always hunted high and low for linen handkerchiefs as she would never use tissues. Now that I have been crying a lot, I know exactly what she meant. Well I use double tissues, as I still cannot find linen handkerchiefs, and I don’t have the heart to use hers, I’m keeping them as they are.
The pain is better. It is not the continuous anguish of the first few weeks, but I still get that sharp twist in my heart at the most unexpected moments, driving the car, pushing the cart in the supermarket, or even just glancing at stacked packets of biscuits. The tears are still too near the surface for comfort, so I keep my shield very handy, my dark sun glasses.
In my mind I know things will get better, but I am still surprised by how immediate my loss still feels. How sudden the onslaught of grief and how still unprepared I am to deal with it.
16 April 2014

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