This week I felt like writing about how the arrival of the holidays has already been extremely difficult for me. These are the first holidays without Clayton. Those Facebook “memories” that pop up in my news feed are like a sharp knife from a friend. Nothing is safe from the reminders. I don’t know if I can even decorate this year but decorating is not what my words are for this week. It is the place that no one would ever think could be a heart-wrenching trigger. A place everyone goes that is designed to help you live but, as a widow, it is a place that can take more of you away…The Grocery Store.
I walked through the store early last week grabbing regular groceries and saw the turkeys on sale. Thanksgiving was days away. I had the holiday off but I don’t have friends here because Clayton was sick soon after we moved here. I’m friendly with my staff but I can’t hang out with them on a regular basis because others would fear favoritism – Career FOMO. (Side note - Snowflakes are making my life way harder than it should be. If they can’t handle that Starbuck’s ran out of pumpkin spiced everything than I pray for them when real life hits…) I digress. So here I am in the grocery store grabbing a turkey. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday so I started thinking about the different sides I would make and then there it was – A box of those crispy onion things that go on that green bean casserole stuff (Not my tradition – Sorry, not sorry). I froze.
“Clayton loves green bean casserole. Wait, Clayton loved green bean casserole."
My heart sank. Tunnel vision. Deep sadness. Anxiety. Panic. Dizzy. I had to get out. This wasn’t the first time I had to just leave a cart and walk out but I had to buy dog food so I rushed up to the front to checkout.
“Hi. Having a good night?” The cashier asked.
Oh God! I thought to myself. Don’t ask. Please I can’t.
“Yup! Just in a rush.”
I made it out the door. I put the groceries in the car. I returned the cart. I sat in the car. I lost it. I couldn’t control myself. A good 10 minutes of intense hurt and sadness. I pulled myself together. Drove home. Fed the dog and went to bed. For a holiday known to make people feel full, I have never felt so empty this Thanksgiving…
Fast forward to today. I stopped at the store to grab dinner. Everything was fine until I heard the Christmas music playing. I bit my tongue to fight back the tears. Everywhere I looked were foods Clayton loved, foods that brought back memories, foods I have been avoiding because they remind me of him. I had to get out! This time I felt the sadness, tears as I drove but I narrowly escaped the meltdown. I had gotten out before the full effects hit. I was lucky tonight but I don’t know what’s going to happen the next time I have to go back into a place I need in order to live that constantly reminds me that Clayton has died…