Grief can be so predictable at times. Birthdays, anniversaries, visiting a special place, milestones, or reading an old card–I can prepare for those. I know those will be tough. Sometimes more than I expected and sometimes less. But, grief has a way of sneaking up on me at times and in places where I did not anticipate it, or perhaps maybe I thought it would no longer creep up on me.
This week it was Target.
My dad, who is living with Parkinson’s and dementia, begged my sister and me to take him. We were tired, but we knew he rarely gets the opportunity to go out these days. We loaded his wheelchair in the car, masked up, and begrudgingly took him.
We leisurely made our way through the store and paused in the men’s clothing. A pair of shoes caught my eye. They likely weren’t the exact pair, but they were so similar to ones I’d given to Boris. A pair that I donated to a men’s shelter within a week after he died. (Or did I? I can’t even remember.) And I felt a little lump in my throat. A sting in my heart.
This happened a lot more in the first several months after he died. I avoided men’s clothing sections. It hurt too much. I loved shopping for Boris. I loved picking out something for him, even just a boring pair of khakis. Or, some casual shoes from Target.
Sometimes I have flashbacks of the night he died when the paramedics used scissors to cut his pants and his shirt. I remember thinking, “Ugh, I guess we will have to throw those away.” As if that were the tragedy. As if he was going to come home in a few days and I’d need to bring him a new pair of pants and shirt. His clothes felt important to me.
I know that I have written about similar things before, including a post about food. But, my realization at Target is just a reminder that loss touches every part of life. It’s in the “big” days and the obvious things, but it is also there in the middle of Target. And, it makes sense. Isn’t that what love is, too? Our love for other people is obvious in weddings, birthdays, grand gestures, romantic trips, and celebrations, but love is also in the mundane. Our love is in the takeout meals, the Netflix nights, the Sunday naps, the “goodnight” texts, and it’s in the middle of Target. It’s that pair of shoes that I thought would look so good on him (and they did). My grief is everywhere because my love for him is everywhere.