Everyone loves a bargain. People want to feel like they got a good deal – like they got one over on the establishment. I’m no different. I scour the endcaps where merchandise is slapped with discount stickers, hoping there is something I might possibly need so I can cry, “Look how much I saved!” It doesn’t matter that it might be a mongo bag of red licorice (which no one in my house likes) or a fish basket for our grill that is hardly used.
In search of savings I have purchased ladies pants (for me), a DVD burner that is too old for my computer to recognize, and several hats I’ve never worn. I regularly peruse the Goodwill store and seriously considered a $10 suit I once found there. Too often, a good buy isn’t a good buy.
I discovered this truth on a recent trip to our local grocery store where they boast weekly BUY 1 GET 1 deals. I love those. Being a large family we stock up when our favorites are buy one get one free. So what do you see when you see this? Look closely…
A good deal?
The fact that cereal is way too expensive?
That they are almost out of stock?
You know what I see? I see Kylie. I see her because that was her breakfast of choice since before she could talk. In fact, that was her favorite snack and often her favorite lunch and dinner. I look at that box and I see her with perfect clarity in her high chair learning to use a spoon. I remember her as a toddler sitting on the kitchen floor at the entrance to the den where she could eat breakfast and still see the TV. I feel her in my lap holding a yellow cup while shoveling fistfuls of oat squares into her mouth and I so desperately yearn to hold her again… right there in the grocery store aisle.
Before I realized it I had put six boxes in my cart because I spent ten years trained to pounce when they were buy one get one free. You know what’s worse than realizing you’ve put six boxes of oat squares you don’t need into your cart? Having to put each and every (insert handy expletive here) one of them back on the shelf.
Uggg. Slump shoulders. Wipe tears. Leave store.
This grieving thing isn’t getting much easier – it is just getting different. And death is so close to me now that I often feel like its angel. I’ve been to too many funerals for children of late. I saw a man I’ve come to love and respect eulogize his son – both beautiful and heartbreaking. I talk to him often and relive those first weeks after Kylie died as I see him walk in the same stupor. Last week I watched two friends celebrate their little girls’ birthdays on the same day. Wonderful celebrations of life – only one sweet girl is fighting cancer here while the other celebrated in heaven.
There is a thin line between this earthly party and the festivities that await us.
I wonder if they even celebrate birthdays in heaven. If so, is the party held on the earthly day or does it morph into the day you cross over that thin line to heavenly rest? In paradise, is there a need to memorialize one day over another or is every day ten thousand times better than the best birthday party here? Is the cake this good?
I wonder. And I ache to know because a part of me is now there.
But it isn’t my time yet. That will have to wait. The little square-eater gave me a job to do and I’m bound to do it. But understand that though I am healthy and active, I am just broken enough that for the rest of my life, something silly like a box at the grocery store might reduce me to tears.
I’m not alone. You or someone you know may be grieving loss. We might look whole on the outside, but the strangest things can turn us to milk-soaked bowls of mushy cereal on the inside. Don’t throw us down the drain quite yet – there still may be some use for us. Just give us room to mourn and please realize that our grief isn’t a switch we can turn on and off at will. Sometimes it gets flipped by the most trivial of things – like a buy 1 get 1 deal on cereal.
Oh, and if you’re headed to the grocery store can you grab me some Cap’n Crunch? Not everyone likes the healthy stuff…