Arts & Crafts Magazine

I Never Want to Forget This.

By Laharris1

I never want to forget this.
I was talking to the beautiful and kind-hearted Sophia.
We were halfway through our four-hour visit, sipping our purified water in wine glasses with lemon and strawberries, and I was talking about those early months when I would be walking through the grocery store pushing a cart and crying softly throughout the aisles.
I never want to forget that feeling, I told Sophia, of feeling so alone with my grief and later even confused that no matter how many times I cried under the bright florescent lights inside a bustling store, not once did anyone seem to see me. To look twice at my crying. To ask me if I was ok.
Of-course to me this was perfectly fine. When you lose your child your once-powerful ego instantly dissolves into harmless dust and you suddenly experience a strange liberation from the regular world, and all your previous wonderings about who is watching and what other people might be thinking about you.
What did Eckhart Tolle say in his recent talk in Pasadena? It’s all such useless thinking.
But I tell sweet Sophia about my grocery store experiences and that I want to remember how it felt to be so unseen during those moments of my despair. I guess it’s because it was so stunning to me. And so shocking that not once did anyone ever come up to me and inquire about my obvious pain. Or even acknowledge my red eyes in the grocery line.
Apparently tears in a grocery aisle do not register a single blip on the public radar.
Sophia says that she was sobbing in a crowded public place in Newport Beach when she found out about Patrick-and she had the same experience. People just keep walking past you. She says most people don’t want to feel things, and I guess that kind of intense emotion would be uncomfortable for your average rushing-to-somewhere person.
And I totally understand.
The reason I want to remember how raw I felt is so that I can forever keep my eyes open for that one woman or man that I see standing in the ketchup aisle. And maybe like me, they’re suddenly hearing their son who is no longer alive ask, “Hey Mama is there any ketchup for my eggs?” Because of course you’re remembering that he always had ketchup with his eggs. And as his mother you’re also seeing all his favorite foods on every aisle and having flashbacks of your joy as you watched him devour your food because he loved every-single thing-you-ever-cooked-for-him—which opens the door to so many other tender moments.
And soon your heart is breaking so loudly in your ears that you can no longer hear that irritating soundtrack playing overhead. All you feel is that horrific realization that he’s gone. And then the thud in your chest of missing him so much you could literally collapse from pain if you weren’t clinging to your cart.
I wonder if other mothers who have lost their hunky, big, healthy sons have these foodie flashbacks inside grocery stores.
Because I’m ready if I see them.
I already know. If I see someone crying in the grocery store, wandering through aisles looking broken and sad, I dream about going up to them and asking them if there is anything I can do to help.
Can I reach this box of cereal for you?
I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just nod and whisper how sorry I am about their sadness.
Lord knows there are no magic answers in odd, public moments like that but my own grief journey is making me so excruciatingly sensitive to people who are hurting. I personally know how we notice each tiny speck of kindness that floats into our throbbing universe.
And I’m learning that there is always space for compassion, even if it’s a quick meeting of the eyes. A silent flash of human contact when you look at someone and let them know, I see your pain.
I dream of meeting that person in the grocery store someday.
Now that I know that this alternative universe exists where there are people crying in public because it hurts so much and they can’t help it, I want to stay aware.
Even if the relief only lasts a few seconds, I want them to know  they’re not alone in their darkness.
Yesterday was the dreaded 15th of the month and for the first time it was different.
I noticed that I felt lighter and I’m sure it was because of my visit with Sophia, a close friend of Patrick’s who reached out to me recently with a beautiful letter and followed it up with a visit from LA.
Sophia teaches meditation classes. And we had so much to talk about. She walked inside with a bouquet of yellow sunflowers and instantly noticed the Cleo Wade’s poetry book on my table and said, “I know her!” Turns out we were both at her book signing in Los Angeles, sitting upstairs in the children’s section of Barnes and Noble, listening to Cleo and Nicole Ritchie chat, and only several feet away from each other.
Who would have guessed that the Universe would bring us together this way?
Also, I finally solved the mystery of the tender note I had found tucked in the flowers and random candles that marked Patrick's fallen spot. Now I know it was Sophia, and that she was also back at the site on the six-month anniversary because she saw the IPA bottle that we left after we had toasted to Patrick and talked to him.
Sophia is an incredibly talented songwriter and singer and she sent me a song she wrote that was inspired in part—by Patrick. Her voice is stunning. But the best part of her story were the incredible signs she felt from Patrick, as she was talking with her producer “about Pat.”
I love hearing about these inexplicable signs because I’ve had some stunning ones too.
We spent hours together and afterwards I felt myself enveloped in a bubble of pure love and healing that seemed to carry me through the entire dreaded day of the 15th of the month.
This is how we do it, dear person who-might-be-reading-this-and-feeling-down.
We have an option.
We can be a Light for others, that’s a wonderful distraction.
In fact Anne Lamott says that when people come to her and tell her they’re depressed she tells them to go flirt with the old people in the health food store. Or take some waters to the nearest shelter. She’s using humor but her point is, sometimes we ‘need to get out of ourselves’, and service to others helps us do that.
But. When you can’t be a Light because you’re hurting too much, you must be willing to stay open to the delicate signs that the Universe will send your way. A chance meeting. A simple conversation.
Pay attention to synchronicities in your life because they are there, waiting to be seen. And waiting to point you gently toward your path.
I said “Yes” to a spontaneous meeting because whoever loved Patrick, I love.
And it was the best thing I could have done for my healing.
We have to be willing to be surprised if we’re going to get through our darkest days.
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