A few days ago I sat chatting with a friend about how strange grief is. She’d lost a child many years ago and we talked about how the hard days, the birthdays, the anniversaries, Christmas are hard but the hardest days are the ones that take you by surprise.
On the big days, you dread them coming up but you also kind of brace yourself for them. You mentally prepare. For me, I’ve already gone through my own birthday, one month after Vance’s death and our 20th anniversary (all within ten days, too). Each of those days sucked, but the worst was the days building up to them. I dreaded our anniversary for an entire month.
But I didn’t expect to break down in the chip aisle. I actually made it to the grocery a couple days ago. I went at 8:30 PM, when there aren’t a lot of people in our small town store. I put in my earbuds and didn’t even run into anyone I knew. I made to the very last aisle with no breakdowns then went back for a bag of chips. And right there between the Fritos and the Coke products, I lost my mind.
Before Vance died he had been getting healthier. (The irony, right?) He’d pretty much given up sugar and carbs. He lost about 60-70 pounds. He even gave up Coke, which was a huge deal considering the decades long two liter a day habit he’d had. My kryptonite has always been a bag of chips. I just love them and sadly, I can eat a whole bag in one sitting. A few months ago he’d encouraged me to give up the chips and start to get healthier myself. At the time I just rolled my eyes and ate more Doritos.
But there in the junk food aisle, I couldn’t pick out a bag of chips. Because he didn’t want me to. Because there were so many choices. Because … I don’t know. Because a song we sang at this funeral was running through my headphones. And I stood there, like a crazy person, with tears running down my cheeks and my head against the grocery cart and just wept. Because … chips.