Grief, the Grocery Store, and Grace

I went to the grocery store today.

I know.  Big mistake.  Two days before Thanksgiving.  I knew better.

It was crazy.  The thing I kept telling myself (and the other shoppers I kept running into) was, “Better today than tomorrow.”

Y’all, it was crazier than the grocery store when a half-inch of snow is predicted.

They were almost out of EGGS.

Seeing as the one request I’ve had is for my deviled eggs, this could have been devastating.

I was prepared today.  I took a list.  And not just the one where I jot down things in my brain that I’d prefer not to forget to get.  I wrote it out on a piece of blue paper that I tore off from one of the littles’ papers we were *ahem* letting go of.  One side a grocery list.  The other side a list of what I’m fixing to take to Mess Cat’s house for our Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s a little heavy on the dessert offerings.  But they’re my favorite to make, so…..yeah, pie is good.

I wish I could say I whisked in and out and was done fast as lightning.

Alas, no.

It was packed.  Very crowded.  Like a Saturday morning or the day before a “big” snow.   I picked the wrong day to pick out the very biggest cart…..so hard to maneuver.

But I got it done, with everything on my list checked off.  Except for mini-bagels.  My crew was impressed with pizza bagel bites and I thought–well I can make those on my own.  Only I was wrong when I thought that, because I couldn’t find mini-bagels, so I decided it wasn’t that serious and headed to the checkout.

The fellow directing grocery cart traffic (because that’s a very real thing) sent me to aisle 4.  Unfortunately the guy there had only started unloading his cart, and he had quite a bit to purchase.  Another clerk walking by told me I could move to aisle 5.  I’m sure that it wasn’t because she noticed me stretching my neck to see how long the wait in that one was or because she could tell I was trying to see if I could move and not be violating some grocery cart traffic law.  Positive it wasn’t any of those reasons…..

The clerk in Aisle 5 was efficient as was the young woman bagging up the groceries.  He smiled politely and worked through my pile of purchases quickly.  When he handed me my bag with my egg carton on the bottom and a loaf of bread on the top, I thought I might swoon.  Seriously, I am convinced that’s why the two are shaped so similarly, with just about the exact same lengths–they are both delicate and should be bagged accordingly.  When he did that, I knew he was a dedicated young man.  That and the button he wore declaring him associate of the month said it all.

As we bonded over bagged groceries, I noticed his name tag.  “Sincere.”

Wow.  I’ll be.

I love that name.  I looked at his face and how he was putting forth his best efforts, despite the fact that I was only one of the many, many folks who would cross his path this evening.  Sincere.  Yep.  It suited.

Channeling my Mama, I struck up a conversation beyond the groceries with him.  “Is that your real name?”

He smiled. “Yep.  It sure is.”

“Your Mama give you that name?”

He nodded.  “Yes ma’am, she sure did.”

The tears welled up for no apparent reason and every single possible one all at the same time.  “She must love you very much.”

He smiled again. Even bigger this time. “She does.”

Oh me.  A young man and his Mama.  For the love.

“Well you hang on to her and love her,” I said as I collected my receipt, said goodbye to the bagger, and began to push my cart away.

Huh?  Hang on to her and love her?

Grief can make us do some wacky things, can’t it?  Talk to strangers.  And tell them to hang on to their Mamas?


What I really wanted to do was weep and give him a hug and money to go buy his Mama a big beautiful bouquet and make him promise to spend a day just listening to her stories and what her dreams and wishes have been and how those have changed over the years and then take lots of pictures, silly and serious, of the two of them and anyone else who would join them.  Because there’s no such thing as too much time listening to stories or celebrating relationships or hugging folks you love or pictures.  In fact, there’s rarely enough of times like that.  It’s all too short.

But instead of sounding crazy, I chose to say, “Hang on to her and love her.”

Oh me.

When I got home, once again I was faced with all the pain and brokenness in our world.  And it made me sad.  Again.

Then I stumbled across these words of my sweet friend–my friend who knows about grief and missing Mamas firsthand–and like someone catching you before you fall and hurt yourself, her words caught me and were so full of grace, I felt as though she were telling me what I did today wasn’t goofy.  That it was okay.

Here is how easy it is to love a stranger: I walked to the post office during my lunch break and said hello and tried to engage everyone I met with a kind word or compliment. If I can do it, so can you.  ‪#‎babysteps‬ ‪#‎loveiseasy‬ —Renea Winchester

Tonight I’m thankful for the reminder that in the face of darkness, love.  Just love on some folks.  Even if it’s awkward and sounds like you’re two when you do it.  Love.  Be kind.

An appropriate lesson as we are about to enter the season that’s really all about that, isn’t it?  Sending Love and Light into the darkness?

I think so.

And that’ll do for two days before Thanksgiving.

Love to all.



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