Thursday, September 18, 2008

Grocery Store

Today I went grocery shopping. I filled my basket to the brim with ingredients to prepare the culinary delights that lazily came to mind as I strolled down each aisle. All the makings for a great sandwich, a taco night dinner, snacks for kids, snacks for me, another attempt at perfecting my crab and shrimp wantons, pesto for the pea pine nut pasta salad. Finally when there was no more room in my cart, I headed to the check out lane.

I piled the groceries onto the conveyer belt and made pleasant small talk with the checker. She was a kind lady. She saw some items that I did not have coupons for and pulled coupons from under her desk to let me use. I appreciated her friendly familiar demeanor. 

I was anxious to get home to eat. I was hungry. It seemed to take forever to get all my goods on the belt. I have about 20 yogurts. That means lots of back and forth bending to get them up to the checker. I make sure I put the bread and chips up last so they don't get squished. I try to put the refrigerated things near each other in hopes they will be in the same bag and make unpacking easier. I am focused on the task of my hands. Finally my cart is empty.

I went to my wallet to pull out my club card for the store and my credit card. It took me a little while to find the club card in the middle of all those pieces of plastic. I had to pull them all out to thumb through them to find it. All the while, I am making small talk with the checker. 

Out of the corner of my mind, I remember doing this same thing for the first time after Camille died-grocery shopping. Back then my every thought was of my loss. I wondered how the checker could not know my story by just looking at my face. I felt like a walking ghost, interacting with the living, but not a part of their world. 

Every aisle was a reminder of something I didn't need to buy anymore. Every face was that of someone who didn't understand that I had a whole right through my center. Every moment of conversation was tainted with the fear of someone mentioning my children and bringing the tears pouring inside to the surface. 

This morning, I remembered all of that and thought, "Wow, I haven't once thought while this checker is chatting with me about how she doesn't know what has happened. I haven't once marveled that life seems so normal to her."

Maybe life is getting a little more "normal" for me.


Rachel said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who loads my groceries onto the conveyor belt in the order I want them packed. I miss Trader Joe's where they knew me well enough I could just start bagging my own groceries. Glad to hear you're feeling stronger today.

Chell said...

Thank you for posting about the good as well as the bad days. Am so glad that you had a little stronger day today.

Much love

tharker said...

I love the idea of a "new normal". 5 years ago, when I found out that my son would be born with a disablility, I was so sad at the thought of nothing ever being normal again. Thankfully, with time and healing, we found a new normal, with a new way of doing things. For some reason, it's comforting to me.

I too group my groceries together. Definitely makes things much easier when you get home ;)

Jeanette said...

That feeling comes and goes.

My husband took me out to lunch for my Daughter's birthday in August and I remember thinking the same thing and I just wanted to go around telling everyone it was my daughter's birthday today, but it's one of those things you don't want to drop in someone's lap. "It's my daughter's birthday today, but she died, so we're celebrating without her."

But I kept waiting for someone to just look at me and know, because surely my grief was written all over my face, yet they talked to me like every other customer, and went their way without ever knowing that my heart was broken and bleeding inside of me.

Then yesterday at a school function I mentioned my daughter offhand and didn't even have that catch in my chest that usually comes.

Sometimes it's just easier to function than others.

annie said...

That is such a hard thing to explain, that feeling like you are the only one who is going through something so terrible that everyone must see and must read the pain on your face. Shortly after Izzy's near drowning, while she was in a coma in the hospital I would take walks around Target which was close to the hospital. I wanted things to be normal so badly. I felt like I was walking alone in the middle of so many people, and one day I was behind a small family in line who were holding a little girl who looked like Izzy. When they called her by name, "isabelle," I burst into tears. It was uncontrollable. I tried to explain briefly that I wasn't insane, just dealing with a personal tragedy and they offered to let me hold their daughter. I didn't. I simply wanted to hold mine, and have her know me again.

A Farmer's Wife said...

YAY!!! I'm so glad you had a normal grocery experience! I hate grocery shopping!!! I think it is so inefficient...take things off the shelf, put them in the cart, take them out of the cart, put on conveyor belt, take sacks out of cart, put into truck, take sacks back out of truck, put on counter in kitchen, put up groceries...drives me nuts!!!

Scott&Mandi said...

That is so good you were able to have that experience, to see that slow, things will become a new "normal". Your articulation is wonderful, and I appreciate you being willing to share your good and bad days with everyone. Thank you. said...

Here is a big hig from me! You are moving forward and that is good because that is what you have to do...for you and your family. you are so strong steph and we are all amazed by your strength.

ps. invite me over for some yummy food!

ParentingPink said...

Hi. I found your blog on Divine Caroline and I am truly touched by your journey. I am the mom of 3 girls - 5, 3, and 18 months. In fact, my eldest shares the same as Camille's middle (Kathleen). You are very brave and I applaud your ability to use this blog as a way to begin healing.

I run a site for parents of girls (, feel free to stop by the site or blog any time!

Just me! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I understand when you say the rest of the world is 'normal' and you are trying to pick up the pieces of your life. It is a lonely, cold, hollow feeling.

a.k.a. Jack said...

Man! I wish I was eating at your house this week! :) Love you,

Anonymous said...

Nice to know we can still be normal through trials and grief. I know I need that. Haven't felt normal for a while.. Thanks for the post. Hope you get more normal every day!

chanel said...

simple and amazing

Cassi said...

You have an amazing talent with writing and sharing the truth. I don't know why, but the grocery store was the hardest place to return after my son passed. I felt exactly the same way. How can people be here doing normal things...can't they see my life is upside down. Anyway I am glad your grocery store trip was "normal". You are such a good example to me, and I love to read your wise words.
P.S. I learned that my friend Shayna is your cousin!

Heidi said...

That is so true--especially about thinking your loss and pain are written all over you for people to read.

And that's funny that you try to put it in order. I never even thought of that because my grocery store does it for me automatically. I'll have to thank them for it the next time I go in. :)

Stephanie said...

I usually bag my own groceries for this very reason!

I am glad you have some "normal" moments now and then!

and I'd love to try the crab and shrimp wontons--once you've perfected them!

Anonymous said...

Boy, don't you know we would all like to be eating at the Waite house this week!

Would love to have your recipe for Wontons if you feel they are perfected enough to share?

Also, considering what Jon does for a living, I would love to hear his take on all of the recent financial events occuring in our Country. Having heard many of the talking head experts on the news channels blaming Hedge Funds as well as predicting their future demise, I would also be interested in his take on that. (Not sure if you feel this type of info would be out of place but I have enjoyed his previous entries and was hoping he could maybe help out some of us less informed - if possible?) BTW - Love, love, loved the picture of him in the orange leisure suit! Ha!

Jonathan Waite said...

Hey anonymous, I actually posted today and thought about talking about that because I've had a lot of people (mainly family members) ask me about it. These are my non-financial family members that were just looking for a simple explanation. I ended up not writing about it because, I don't know, I just forgot about it. Had other things on the mind. Anyhow, maybe Stephanie will allow me to blog on it later (this is her blog afterall). In the end, I would just caution never take journalists as gospel when it comes to financial matters (they're not always 100% wrong, they just never give the complete picture and sometimes are dead wrong).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the entry on this subject Jonathan! It is so much easier to understand when it is simply explained without a journalist or talking head wanting to impress (and/or scare) their audience!
Your Chicken Little title was perfect as well!

Thanks again and thanks to Stephanie for passing the baton for a few!