Saturday, July 31, 2010

Of Shirts and Sadness

I've been a widow now for almost five years, so the early stages of grief and sadness are behind me. But sometimes, unexpectedly, grief hits me again like a punch in the gut.

Last Saturday I walked into a department store. I usually come into this store through the front door but I parked in the back that day because I wanted to walk over to Target afterward. The back entrance goes through the men's department. The first thing I saw was a display of long-sleeved men's shirts. Ralph always wore long sleeves, and my eyes lit on a shirt I knew he'd love. My hand stretched toward it...and suddenly it hit me: What the heck am I doing? He's gone. I stopped in my tracks as the grief washed over me and then I scurried through the rest of the men's department as fast as I could. On the way back out a few minutes later I walked around the center counter and past the t-shirts. He never bought t-shirts; he got plenty at computer shows, so I figured the way out was safe.

Does this happen to you? Sometimes it's hearing a song that was popular long ago; sometimes it's channel surfing and accidentally landing on a show we used to watch together; sometimes it's reading something in the newspaper I know he'd find funny or interesting. For months after he died I didn't listen to music, and there are some TV shows I've never watched again.

I'm glad these episodes don't happen as often as they used to, but I fear they'll always sneak up. Below is a quote that expresses it best:

"It's so curious: one can resist tears and 'behave' very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer... and everything collapses." ~Colette



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