A few weeks ago, I stopped at Giant to pick up a few things. As I was walking up and down the aisles, my eyes suddenly filled up with tears and I became very emotional. All of the sudden, I just felt overwhelmingly sad. I quickly grabbed the rest of the items I needed and went through the self-checkout. By the time I made it out to my car, I was full on crying. You’re all probably wondering what the hell is wrong with me, so let me back it up a little and explain myself.
There are a few places that I try to avoid because they remind me of my “old” mom and make me really fucking sad. Giant is one of them. It’s the grocery store that my mom always went to when I was growing up and living at home. It’s the grocery store that I often went to with my mom. I also began going there as a young adult when I was living on my own. On a few occasions, I actually ran into my mom while we both just so happened to be shopping there at the same time. Whenever I ran into her like that, I always felt really sad. At the time, my sister and I had concerns about my mom’s health and her memory, but we didn’t yet know what was going on with her. I would see her shopping there by herself and feel really bad for her. I thought she might be lonely or sad and I felt like I should have been shopping with her. It just always felt weird to me to run into my mom like that, like I should have known that she was going to be there, but I didn’t.
Anyway, ever since my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and especially when it started to get really bad, I’ve avoided going to Giant like I avoid going to the mall at Christmas time. Every time I go in there, I get really sad. It reminds me of her and it just makes me miss her. I’ll go in there with my husband if he has to get a few things, but sometimes I just wait in the car. That’s how much I hate going to Giant.
On the day that I began sobbing like a lunatic in my car in the parking lot, I had gone to Giant by myself. My husband was away for training and I had to go to another store in the same shopping center anyway. I told myself that it didn’t make sense to go out of the way to go to ShopRite instead just because going to Giant makes me sad. I told myself that I was being stupid and that it wasn’t a big deal. It probably didn’t help that one of the items on my list was a Mother’s Day card for my mom. I had basically set myself up for failure. And so, I cried.
I remember standing in the greeting card aisle when I looked up and suddenly pictured my mom coming up the aisle with her cart. I pictured myself running into her while she was shopping like I used to do before she got sick. I pictured myself talking to my mom, my “old” mom, and laughing at how we both just so happened to be there at the same time. I could literally see her coming up the aisle toward me. And I don’t mean see her like she is now, but see her like she was then. It was heartbreaking. It reminded me that she is no longer able to do her own grocery shopping and that she hasn’t been for years now. It reminded me that there is no possible way that I will ever run into her out shopping anywhere ever again. It reminded me of how much I miss her.
Sure, my mom isn’t gone yet and I can still go visit her anytime I want, but it’s much different now. I miss her even when I’m sitting right next to her. There are days when I can’t wait to leave her house and go to mine, but I always miss her as soon as I do. I miss her whether I’m with her or not. I can’t talk to her the way I used to or ask her for advice. There are so many things I wish I would’ve asked her or said to her before she got sick. There are so many things I wish we would’ve done together. So many places I wish we would’ve gone. But, none of that matters now. There is nothing I can do to change the past or fix the future. It is what it is, but sometimes I just miss her.
I accepted my mom’s illness years ago and I’m dealing with it much better now than I was a few years ago. I still go through cycles of grief and I don’t think that will ever stop. I will always love my mom unconditionally and do whatever it takes to make sure that she knows how much I love her. But, no amount of love or acceptance will ever make me stop missing her. I will still avoid going to Giant, the Saladworks near my hairdresser’s house, and other places that remind me of my mom. I will still avoid driving past her neighborhood unless I’m going to her house. I will still avoid running by certain park benches at Glasgow Park. There are times when looking at old photographs is too much to bear. There are songs that make me instantly think of her and cry. There are certain TV shows that make me so sad I can’t stand to watch them. I’ve even teared up just from seeing that “I Love Lucy” is on when scrolling through the TV guide.
It’s not like I sit around crying all day, every day, missing my mom. Some days I’m completely fine. Other days I start to feel sad for no real reason at all. I just start thinking about her and I get really sad. Or, I remember a dream I had about her the night before and it makes me sad. I find that I dream about her a lot when I’m really missing her. Sometimes the dreams are about her before she had Alzheimer’s and sometimes the dreams are about her now. Either way, I always wake up feeling sad the next day. There are definitely certain things that trigger these emotions and cause me to start missing my mom more than usual. That’s why I just try to avoid them. Maybe there will come a day when I’ll be able to do all of these things without getting sad and starting to cry. But for now, I just miss her.