Stuck in the wine aisle sobbing; another Valentine’s Day


On Valentines Day I systematically try to avoid the chocolate aisles. You need to understand one thing: I LOVE CHOCOLATE with a passion that is borderline creepy. I also like holidays, any excuse for a celebration, I’m in. But my mother was my first Valentine and she is not here anymore.

//In the town where I grew up “el Día del Amor y la Amistad”(literal translation: the day of love and friendship) was hugely celebrated. Every year many girls in school would get flowers, chocolates, balloons or teddy bears from a boy (or multiple boys, if they were really lucky). I was never popular with the boys and my parents were well aware, so each year my mom would get me a little something: a teddy bear one year, new pajamas another, flowers, balloons, one year she even got me perfume! She always tried to make the day special. There was always a card and always a box of chocolates. This would cheer me up after a day of wondering why not ONE BOY in the whole school liked me enough to show it.//

I now have children and children love to celebrate, so it’s impossible to avoid the chocolate aisle altogether for the weeks before Valentine’s Day.  I find myself having to breathe and focus on the task at hand: purchase the chocolates, walk away.

Yesterday I lost it and I wasn’t even shopping for chocolates! I was at Cost Plus World Market shopping for fun snacks, coffee and wine. Something about the store, maybe their many Valentine’s Day displays triggered it. It happened suddenly and I couldn’t control it. Next thing I knew I was sobbing in the wine aisle. It was strange. I was a bit embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to ask what was wrong. What would I have said? My mother died <<back in 2010>>. I imagine the confused face of this imaginary person- shouldn’t I be “over it” if it happened 4 years ago?

I calmed myself down, checked out and got into the car. On my drive home I reflected:

I asked myself why should I care what people think? Well… I encounter so many people that are more than willing to tell me about God and God’s plans and mysteries and how my mother is probably better off in heaven- that I am afraid of being caught sobbing in the wine aisle, because OBVIOUSLY wine is not the answer, GOD IS! I wasn’t sure I would be able to articulately handle the rhetoric of afterlife-consolation. When I am calm I think about all these eloquent things I can say in reply, but when I am approached I usually silently blink at the person in awe that they have the nerve to talk to me about grief.

Then I tell myself that I am being silly; the likelihood of a stranger asking a woman who is crying (in the wine aisle) why she is crying is very VERY low. I had gone there after a long day in the office and most likely looked a bit frazzled (if not completely insane) so maybe I should say the chances of someone approaching me were pretty close to null. But then again: A crying woman in the wine aisle is the perfect invitation to someone that is sent to this world to spread the gospel. What if someone offered to pray for me, right there, what would I have done?

What would you have done?


The Middle Place

My "Middle Place" feels like the Grand Canyon

My “Middle Place” feels like the Grand Canyon


The Middle Place: “that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap” -Kelly Corrigan.

Last night I dreamt that I was just as pregnant as I am now (about 7.5 months) and having contractions. In my dream this didn’t worry me one bit.  I called my mom and told her we needed to go shopping, because I didn’t have diapers or anything and the baby would come soon. She drove over and very nonchalantly asked me where I wanted to go shopping. We chatted for a bit and the rest of the dream consisted of us menially choosing baby stuff while I stopped every 5 minutes or so to breathe through a contraction.

I woke up feeling quite normal and thinking that maybe I should prepare a bit for this baby.  This will be my 3rd girl and I haven’t bought anything, so maybe getting some things will calm whatever subconscious anxiety I am carrying. I’ll start with a box of newborn diapers.

Then, as I had coffee, I started thinking about the beauty of the dream, about those little things I really miss. The ability to call my parents and say things like: “I need to go shopping.” Not that my mom would be able to hop on a plane and be by my side to take me on a shopping spree, but it helped to have that person to express all these little things to.  Of course, if I called my mom and said: ‘the baby is coming early’ she would hop on the first available flight and be by my side, ready to help me with whatever I needed, but that’s not what this is about.

I have friends and a wonderful husband, but there is no one to whom I will ever be as relevant as I was to my parents. To them, the mere act of hearing my voice over the phone was a joy, and they wanted to listen no matter what I had to say.  If I talked to my dad and told him about my car making a funny noise he would want to hear all about it, even though he couldn’t solve anything for me. Even though he knew my husband would certainly take care of it. He just wanted to listen, because I was there, willing to take the time to talk to him. I could call my mom and gripe about the simplest things and hang up feeling that my unexciting life really mattered, at least to her…

I listen to audiobooks during my work-commute, and I just recently started The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. A couple of minutes into my drive, it reads:

“[The Middle Place is about] calling home. Instinctively. Even when all the paperwork—a marriage license, a notarized deed, two birth certificates, and seven years of tax returns—clearly indicates you’re an adult, but all the same, there you are, clutching the phone and thanking God that you’re still somebody’s daughter.”

And that is the one thing I am not prepared to let go of… I still want to (badly) be somebody’s daughter.