The Fairness of Life

Khaleesi of our dog pack

Khaleesi of our dog pack

When I was 16, my  mother told  me that life wasn’t fair. Until that point I’d understood the lessons learned growing up poor but, at some point at least, I thought the scales would balance out and occasionally the good things in life would come my way.

My mother made it clear that was not to be.

Still, I went on to live a good life with ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and though luck always went to someone else, I was okay with that.

Until my daughter’s death.

Words can’t contain the enormity of the hole left behind by a child’s death. As a writer, I’ve spent the days since October 20, 2014 searching for the ones that will comfort me late at night when I lie in bed trying to find sleep instead of heartache. I haven’t found them yet.

In my parent’s grief group I hear the stories of other mothers and fathers who, too, struggle to get through each day while mourning the loss of their child. We talk about the boxes of belongings we can’t bear to part with. The items of clothing and jewelry we wear in a vain attempt to keep our dead child close. And then, the ones who have survived this pain the longest tell us it will never go away, but it will change.

Some day, they say, the smiles will outnumber the tears.

While I wait for that change to come, I remind  myself of the 27 years I had with her. Her exuberance for life. Her love of her family. The way she adored her dogs. How her smile brightened a room. How her tears could break your heart.  Her persistence. Her love of chocolate and Starbucks and Sonic. Her ability to be both wise and foolish in the same instant. Her transition into a woman who had been disappointed and had her heart broken more than a few times, but kept trying.

In my mind, I knew the adult she would turn out to be. I’ll never see that played out.

Life is unfair like that.

But  I also had 27 years to love her and that was worth every bit of pain I’ve suffered since her death. Maybe life isn’t so unfair after all.

Grocery Shopping Isn’t a Spectator Sport

Grocery shopping is my least favorite chore in the world. Stuck in a fluorescent cave where the aroma of freshly baked bread battles it out with the stench of spoiled fish, confronted by carelessly discarded carts and poorly placed products, my anxiety level rises to Mount Everest proportions. As if the entire shopping experience isn’t designed to slow your pace to a crawl, lately I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of people that think grocery shopping is a spectator sport.

You’ve seen them. While one of them peers at the shopping list and looks for sales, the other dawdles, randomly stopping to block an aisle or access to items. They come around corners at sloooow speed, t-boning the carts of the people who are moving at a brisk pace. They grab a cup of complimentary coffee and then steer the cart with one hand, causing it to veer from side to side and making it impossible to pass them. While their significant other inspects every label on every brand of stewed tomatoes, they block the aisle and watch like it’s their job.

I assume the majority of grocery spectators are deaf or hard of hearing. They don’t move or otherwise respond to polite throat clearing, the rumbling of an approaching cart, or the plea “excuse me, I need to get by.” Once they’ve found an inconsiderate place to be, they’ll stand their ground until their partner moves on.

There are many reasons to hate this practice. For example, grocery store spectating promotes poor time management skills. Two people, one grocery store? Live a little and split the list in half. Or send the cart pusher off for heavy items while the other spirit communes with the cereal until they divine the right brand for their breakfast enjoyment. Better yet, send them to the magazine aisle, no one uses that one much. Or leave them in the car. Maybe they can clean it while you’re inside. There are much better uses of time than to be the vestigial tail of a shopping team.

And I don’t want to get started on those who take small children on a grocery shopping trip. I hope there’s a special circle of hell for them.

How to fix the problem? I don’t know whether there needs to be a special Facebook group, a Kickstarter project to educate people against it, or a twitter campaign to alert the masses, but the word needs to get out there – Grocery shopping isn’t a spectator sport. If a grocery chain wants to double the size of their aisles, provide viewing areas, and replace the overhead music with sports announcers, by all means, invite someone along to watch you shop.

Until then, come alone.