Tonight i stopped at the smaller of our two grocery stores for some greens and cheese. They had the largest bunches of organic kale and chard i’ve ever seen there. i raved to the stock person in the aisle, because i want to promote and encourage more of that quality of organic produce in all our stores. He was excited to share that his family’s Sonoma market was influencing the shift.
After filling my cart with the few items on my list, off to checkout i went, where their greeting cards stop you in your tracks; either wildly funny, or irresistibly beautiful works of art. Noticing a man also looking at the rack, i commented on how great their cards are, and he shyly agreed, saying there had been a sympathy card there the prior day that deeply moved him, but it was no longer there. He needed an image to fill the loss of his precious baby sister to a brain tumor last week. Time froze as raw emotion pierced his vulnerability, and i immediately encouraged him to say more. He did. At first he stumbled, through grief so thick his words twisted or trailed off. Diagnosed three years ago, when the end came in the hospice ward, she waited – in full consciousness – til the whole family was there…most especially the three brothers. They loved her like she was gold, and she knew it. In fact, my new friend had undertaken a 2,350 mile bike ride for her cause early on, through Washington State and Montana and Canada and back. “But it didn’t help her,” he said. i countered “What do you think kept her alive and made her wait for you?” He fell apart whimpering.
The checkout girl flagged me, asking if i was ready, and i promptly said no, that i was listening to my friend’s story and i’d need a couple minutes more. Surprised by my action as he was full of grief, he tried even harder not to weep. i took his arm and we moved aside, where i asked him to tell me more. By then we were both crying hard, fully engaged in the memory of his precious loss. “It’s so unfair they took her instead of me. She was an angel, dammit. It shouldn’t have happened to her. It should have been me!” “Maybe God was lonely and really needed her back; did you ever think of that?” i choked through honking tears, and our shared grief fell instantly into sync.
As steam cooled in our conversation, he confided that he’s leaving next week for a year in Santa Rosa to do alcohol rehab; he’ll have a full year to think about what comes next. i praised his courage, and wished him well. With extreme gratitude, he thanked me over and over for giving him my time when he had been hurting so bad and feeling so deeply wronged by the cosmic plan. We blessed each other. My checkout complete, i floated out of the store, suspended in the timeless Grace of this remarkable divine plan.