Shopping Basket-Case

I’m really good at hiding my emotions. Maybe I learned it while growing up, always trying to hide the fact that my father was an alcoholic. These days people can talk about that openly, and it’s healthy to do so. But it wasn’t like that when I was a kid. We talked about it at home, just not in public.

In high school I was showing off a purse my dad had brought back from a recent work trip in North Africa. A friend of mine who had known me since first grade exclaimed, “Your father? I never knew you had one!”

Not only did I have one, he lived with us.

It wasn’t just that I didn’t talk about him. My dad did not really exist socially in our town. He’d go to the bar rooms in another town, was friends with everyone there. He worked overseas, so even professionally he didn’t exist where we lived.

Don’t jump the gun and think I’m repressive. I’m not, I deal with my shit as it comes. It’s just that there are partitions. On my very worst day I can “act” like my normal self. This is a skill polished while working in the hospitals. We had to have these emotional divides, leave our personal messes at home and the hospital messes at the hospital. It is the only way to survive, for medical professionals as well as the patients.

Yesterday though. I was about a hair off from having to be taken out of the grocery store in a straight jacket. I can almost always see something coming. I’ve been in so many different situations that have tested my nerves beyond the normal.

It was a three-year old that almost took me out. In the grocery store. Not my kid or anyone I knew. I was just looking for a pound of coffee and this shopping cart bumped into my backside.

I take a look back and see in the cart, a little girl who looked exactly like Candace at that age. I hurry and look away, feel a tsunami of ache. All I can think is to look at this kid again, maybe pretend for a second that she is really still alive. For just a moment. It might keep me from breaking down in the store.

So I did, I looked again. It wasn’t pleasant. It felt like a ninja star was slicing up the inside of my chest. I walked away, stopped by the hot sauce and tried to intellectualize the situation. I had grieved the loss of my 19-year old niece, the adult. I had never grieved the loss of the child she she had been for most of her short life.

That was something that even on my most creative day I could not have imagined would happen.


26 thoughts on “Shopping Basket-Case

  1. Oh my dear Kitty, I’m giving you the biggest, warmest long hug. Just have a real good cry. (or maybe you’re too like me, afraid to start in case decades worth of shit won’t let you stop if you do?) I feel for you more than you know.

  2. Yes. Grief comes in waves like that, and sometimes it’s a tsunami. I have used that very word myself to describe it. Good for you for speaking about it. And thanks for sharing it.

  3. Oh Kitty, I wondered what that would be like. Being my father was an alcoholic also. He owned a bar a block from home. Everyone knew.
    Candace, Wow. What a trip to have in a store. . She was a joy to be around. A precious child, and a beautiful woman she was.

  4. Thanks Liv. I did have a good cry in the car on the way home. Funny how these moments catch you by surprise.

    Voodoo, Capone happened to call me while I was writing this post. (for the rest of you, Capone is Candace’s brother)
    Sometimes I wonder if that means something or if that was just a coiincidence?

  5. Kitty, I don’t know, but am so sorry that it hitting you hard. I know this holiday will be sad as in how much we miss them everyday, They brought us such joy in life. They want us to be joyful now. hugs

  6. Kitty, I know a little what you talking about. We know a young lady that goes to the same church we go to, and I have never noticed she looked so much like Candance.
    Intill after Candance’s death. So everytime we meet which it’s not offen I see Candance. And I take a step back and God never forgets. Hope you and your family have a safe and happy Holidays.

  7. Whenever someone dies we lose all the parts that made them–the child, the teenager, the adult. It takes a long time to mourn for that many people even if they carried the same name.

  8. So true, Kym.

    Tigerwillow, I missed your comment earlier, thanks for stopping by, i’ll check your blog.

    afr, every time I see a movie with Jessica Alba or Christina Ricci I think of her. Like the entire time. She looked so much like both those girls.

    There is a myspace page her mother created in memory of her if anyone wants to see photos of Candace, from her childhood to age 19.

  9. I was with my brother when he died. My son looks like him and as Zach grows I see a different face of my brother in him. I can tell when My sister sees it too. Now, I look forward to it but the baby faces were the hardest to miss. I like your soul Kitty.

  10. It does, Michele.

    Jen, Candace’s baby looks just like her. Same thing, when I see him there is this ache. I guess it is a different kind of ache than what happened at the grocery, different thoughts about it. I didn’t get to see her that much when she was his age, we were living so far away. But at 3, that age, we moved closer to home and I saw her a lot.

    Anita Marie, I’m glad it made you kinder, being bitter would have given them control of your entire life. You’re too smart for that.

  11. my dad was like yours, only not living at home with us. sometimes putting things aside, “repressing”, is the only way to cope. you’ve learned to deal with grief in that manner, it’s not bad it’s just your way. I’m sorry for your loss, she was beautiful. It’s good to remember though, right?

  12. I can repress things for an 8 or 12 hour shift, or to help a friend through something, but that’s about it. I have to deal with things as they come. The biggest things taking the biggest burner for the moment.

    I guess, the thing is, grief takes a long time. Believe it or not a friend of my mom’s told her just 3 days after my brother passed, “”You need to get over that.”

  13. ” I walked away, stopped by the hot sauce and tried to intellectualize the situation”

    It is odd how the brain works. How we always remember the insignificant thing we did or looked at when we were so upset that we forced a distraction.

  14. I remember staring at some Dragon Sauce, thinking, maybe I look like I just had some of this, that’ll be my story if the men in white jackets come after me.

  15. Kitty, I got into town about 8:30 last night. Aiden was already at Denise’s house and as soon as I looked at him tears ran down my face. I hadn’t seen him in a while and maybe part of me was running from that. I get depressed everytime I come to town. I know for me this is not a good time. It will make one year that she is gone. All this time I was telling myself she will be back .

  16. That “friend” of your mom who told her to “get over it” 3 days after losing her child was no friend. She’ll never get over it, just learn to live with it as time passes. What a bloody heartless thing to say!!!!
    I’ve had “moments” in a store too. About 6 months after my hysterectomy I was in Debenham with Sue and Alex and came across this totally cute baby about 6 to 8 months old. He was smiling and “chatting” to me and Sue told his mom:”She’ll be crying in a minute”, and true enough, I started. Had to quickly turn away from the baby as I didn’t want to upset him. I hadn’t planned on having any more kids, I think I grieved for the ones I couldn’t have. My heart hurt so much as I wanted to pick him up and hold him forever. I learned to keep an emotional distance from babies, which is against my nature.

  17. The woman that told your mom to get over it. We met her the morning Shane died,. At your moms house. Elflord nick named her “attitude” right off. She is not all there.
    I have always had to deal with everything in the moment with my dad always at home and our bar just down the tracks.
    It is weird I miss Shane more than any one else I ever lost. Except for my dad. He was so much fun. We joked all the time. We loved having him and Candace over. She was so quiet , thoughtful, and kind.

  18. Paula, I saw you left a message last night. I’ll try to get in touch with you this weekend. (Hugs)

    Liv, you are a natural with babies. They are crazy about you too, I remember when we’d go somewhere together and see one they would always smile at you.

    VooDoo, that woman goes by the nickname “Attitude” these days? LOL. I don’t think she is “off” I think she lacks emotional depth. At times she can be a really good friend for my mom, they have a great time together most days (people call them Lavergne and Shirley). Maybe what she really meant was that she wanted my mom to get back to her “fun self.”

  19. VooDoo, I think we need to understand the limitations of our friendships with people. Some of our friends are good, really good at some things; they suck at others. No one friend is usually good at all things. “Attitude” if I remember right was there for most of the time at the funeral home for all three.

    I, for instance, have gotten calls in the middle of the night from friends when they had a sick child, one of my friends called and had me to bring her to the hospital because she didn’t want to wake her husband. Had she called me in the morning? I might not have picked up the phone. I suck at mornings, not matter what someone needs, unless they are my children.

  20. Kitty, I know what you meant about seeing someone and loosing it. It happens to me all the time. I get to see Aiden and everytime I have to leave him I end up crying for a long time because he looks just like Candace. He even seems to act like she did at that age. (He has a bad temper if he doesnt get what he wants).

    We had a wonderful weekend with him and Paula. I was sorry to hear that your mom was out of town that weekend.

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