This morning at the grocery store, I worked my way through, thankful that they have restocked the shelves since the rush on groceries earlier this week before the snow hit. I was standing in front of the Chobani Greek yogurt cups that I get for my crew, when I realized that a quiet, elderly woman was waiting patiently for me to make my selections.
“Oh! I’m so sorry,” I said, moving my cart to one side. “I am sorry for holding you up.”
“You didn’t,” she said, staying in the same spot. She was holding a tub of plain Greek yogurt, seemingly mesmerized by it. “I’m just trying to figure out if this is the right kind to get or not.” She held it up to show me. “I found a recipe for a smoothie that uses frozen cherries and Greek yogurt. It’s supposed to help with pain. I don’t know. I wish I could remember which kind they used.”
I looked at the yogurt she had. A different brand from the tub I had just put in my cart, but how different could it really be? Her bag of frozen cherries was starting to form those white ice crystals on its surface. She’d been at this for more than a few minutes.
She pointed at the lid, “This one says it’s probiotic. That’s good, right?” I told her I thought so (but then I thought all yogurt was probiotic, and I just read that they’re not, so, ummm, maybe I shouldn’t have been standing there giving this sweet lady advice). We compared the labels between the two tubs. Hers had more sugars and calories, which we finally figured out was due to the difference in the milks used–hers was from whole milk and mine was made from skim milk.
She shook her head. I could tell it was overwhelming her. She put the yogurt back into the refrigerator case on the bottom shelf. “I’m just going to wait and see which one is the right one. I know it said, I just can’t remember.”
Oh bless her. But seriously?
We have recently gotten “into” smoothies around here. I so wanted to tell her it wouldn’t matter that much. That she could use the one in her hands, and it would be okay. Better than okay. She was so overwhelmed by this one decision, it made me want to cry. I wanted to hug her and tell her to take this yogurt, that it didn’t matter, that she should trust herself.
But I didn’t.
Who am I to question her questioning?
I haven’t made a decision without struggling over it for a long, long time. It started a year ago. I haven’t been able to make a clear-cut decision since I had to make the hard decision about life support for my Mama…..and then again, for our cousin one week later.
I’m not offering excuses or seeking sympathy. It’s just that it hit me today when I was willing with all of my heart for this sweet lady to realize that it was okay to make a decision, choose a yogurt, and take her defrosting cherries home and make that healing smoothie she has so many hopes pinned on. It hit me that I AM JUST LIKE HER. I must look just like this to a casual observer. The least little decisions wear me out. It took me quite a while to decide to even go to the grocery store this morning. Fortunately, the decision kind of made itself since we were out of so many things. It became a necessity.
Yesterday I made simple decisions like scheduling eye appointments, checkups, and paying a bill or two.
And I was exhausted.
Some days the decision of what to feed folks around here is almost more than I can bear. I am thankful for the one night a week that we know what we are having. Every single week. It takes such a weight off. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But it is very real. And don’t get me started on getting dressed. This morning I actually went and found Aub so she could tell me what I was wearing looked okay, that it matched. Some days I struggle to trust my choices, just as my new friend did this morning.
This is one of those side effects of grief that I don’t remember many folks talking about. Or maybe they did, and I just didn’t grasp the reality of it. Until now.
As she pushed her cart on past the yogurt, this sweet lady said, “I will just check the recipe and get the yogurt another time. I really want to make it. It’s supposed to help with back pain. And I have that pretty bad. But I’d rather try this than…..” she looked back at me, “…..a pill.” She made a face. “Anything rather than a pill.”
Bless her. I understand that feeling too. I don’t know whom she has lost, but I think it must be someone real special to her. It’s written all over her walk and her face and the way she is thinking. Tonight I’m holding her in my heart. I hope she finds her recipe and that she can find the yogurt straightaway. And more than anything, I hope the smoothie does help with her pain.
Grief is such a roller coaster of emotions, isn’t it? Some days are like this. Hard. And some days are not quite so much. But the important thing to remember as we walk through this is no matter how “off” our decision-making may seem to those around us, sometimes it’s okay to put the yogurt back in the bin and say, “Maybe another day.” Some days that’s the best we can do. And you know what? It is. It’s okay.