People tell me how strong I am. Yet this morning, I ran out of a supermarket.
I was in auto-drive – find a car park, check the post, walk through the shopping centre, smile at the kids screeching and racing, grab a cart – ooh, nice one – and start.
Then, I saw Christmas decorations. Plum puddings out 2 months in advance. I started thinking about what we needed grocery-wise and dimly thought about Christmas. Then I fell out of time. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I watched a store employee emptying sweet potatoes from a box into the holder – some dropped onto the floor. He picked them up quickly and put them on the mound. Further down a deli worker was talking across the counter to a customer. An older lady shuffled by with her cane on top of her cart. Music from 15 years ago was loud in my ears. I felt disconnected from it all, an invisible voyeur looking out at all that life happening. All the chatter was blurred and quiet, except for that music.
Then I got slammed in the chest with it. “We” didn’t need anything from the store. There is no more “we”. He won’t be at Christmas and won’t enjoy any more plum puddings or smoked salmon or blue cheese or other treats. He is dead. He’s been dead for almost 10 days now.
I thought I’d been dealing with it. I have been out to lunch and dinner with friends and been reasonably tear free. I’d arranged trips, made business calls, gone through memorabilia and clothing. But now, in the middle of this mundane setting, it speared me. He. Is. Dead.
I ran as fast as I could without making a scene. I made it inside my car before I started sobbing. I drove home and ran into the house. Sat here on this computer chair numb, my heart throbbing. I’m on my own. Christmas is going to be a time of pain. So is Australia Day. Valentine’s Day. My birthday. His birthday. So much pain yet to come. I’ve racked up so many contenders for worst days and moments of my life over the past 4 months.
Finding out he was going to die in a year or two. Finding out the first line of chemo didn’t work. Finding out the second line of chemo didn’t work. Having to make phone calls that broke the hearts of nice people by myself from a parking lot – not once,but multiple times. Seeing him in ICU. Having “the talk” about life support with the doctor. Seeing him so swollen and weak he couldn’t get off the couch. Seeing him more and more jaundiced. Finding out he had days to live. Then seeing him grow more and more incoherent. Seeing the whites of his eyes as they rolled back in his head. Seeing his mouth in that ugly boomerang shape as he gasped for breath. Finally, seeing him dead.
That moment in the grocery store shouldn’t even make a list of worst moments. But it does for me. Reality didn’t just slap me in the face – it also punched me in the stomach. Hell, it just knocked me down and kicked me. I know I’ll get back up soon. But right now, I’m out of time.