I have been there, and if you are reading this, maybe you have been, too. Or maybe you know someone who has but you don’t even realize it.
It goes something like this…
You get the courage to venture out to the store after a morning of crying and facing another wave of grief. You finally get to the store, optimistic with your list, hoping to check a few things off that to-do list. Maybe crossing items off your to-do list will make you feel better.
You step through the doors and grab a cart. A Goldfish cracker sign smacks you in the face. You loved Goldfish crackers while you were pregnant. In fact, you jokingly called the babies your little goldfish.
“Ok, FOCUS,” you think. You grab your cart and try to push through.
You try to focus on finding a new bathing suit for the trip you are really excited about.
You search through the racks thinking, “Ok, what would look good on a Mom?” Except you realize that to everyone else, you aren’t really a Mom. You gave birth and held your children. You went to the funeral home on the worst day of your life and planned their cremation. You have a Mom-heart and a Mom-body but no children.
Ok, no bathing suit.
You decide to go look in the men’s section for something for your husband—buying others gifts always cheer you up. On the way to the men’s section, an adorable outfit catches your eye. Then you realize the mannequin is also adorable—adorably pregnant.
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You push the cart hard and force yourself to move on.
You get to the men’s section and try to look at t-shirts.
Then you realize Father’s Day is coming up, and the rack you happened to choose is full of t-shirts that say “World’s Greatest Dad” or “Dad of the Year.”
Ok…No men’s section.
You scoot around to the electronic section and realize that it is directly across from the baby section.
Again, it’s almost Father’s Day and the end cap is full of onesies that say “I love my Dad,” “I Keep my Dad up at Night,” and “Dad’s Greatest Gift.”
“Oh yes,” you think, “greatest gift.”
You hope the dad that holds a child wearing that onesie realizes how true it is.
At this point, you are exhausted with grief, more so than you were than when you got to the store in the first place. You love to read so you go check out the newest releases.
On the way, you see the full season of “Parenthood” for sale and cute little Harry Potter t-shirts for the twin boys you never got to bring home.
Finally, books—some relief. The place where you can dive into a world that doesn’t really exist. A reality that is unlike the one you are living in—the one that you don’t want to think about.
There, you come across the newest cookbook release: Cooking For Your Picky Child.
The toy section screams to your left and the summer fun section is on your right.
You steer towards summer fun. What could go wrong, right? Summer is great and makes everyone happy.
You see matching swimmies that your 3-year-old boys should be wearing and a dinosaur float that would have been perfect.
If only they were here.
The food section appears. You grab your favorite wine, which you know you will need later. You see gummy bears, Cookie Crisp, and every other food marketable to children.
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House section. You find a new candle and go look at bedding.
You happen to turn down the wrong aisle and are faced with Star Wars sheets and Spaceship alarm clocks.
You are almost through the torture.
You grab your prenatals in the toiletry section and look for any new gadget, vitamin, or potion that may help pre-pregnancy and may help you get pregnant.
You will do anything to be there again.
The makeup section reminds you that no matter how much makeup you wear, you can’t cover up the look of pain on your face that you are sure shows through no matter what mask you paint on.
You checkout behind a mother that looks stressed with two young children in her cart. What you wouldn’t give to have your two children in the cart. Your stress is a different kind, it can be a dull ache or a debilitating cloud. Her stress is obvious and clear to everyone around her. Yours is invisible.
You force yourself to look at a magazine and see the celebrity news—fighting over custody, this celebrity is pregnant.
You check out and return your cart.
You walk slowly back to the car, and although you only got two items, you realize that you are leaving with a lot more than you bargained for.
A single tear runs down your face as you rush to your car and slam the door before the waterfall breaks again.
You head home.
Tomorrow is another day.
Tomorrow will be better.
Tomorrow, you won’t go to the store.
Tomorrow you may not get out of bed.
But for today, at least you tried to move on.
But you know that really, there is no moving on.
Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash