Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's the little things that get you: shower caps, iceberg lettuce, and cottage cheese.

This morning, after leisurely reading the paper, making a nice breakfast for my husband, and quickly checking email, facebook and etc., I realized I was going to have to step on it to make it to church on time.  Glancing in the mirror before jumping in the shower, I decided I could get by without washing my hair.  Thinking that it might be a good idea to assure my hairdo would survive the shower, I remembered I had a shower cap somewhere.  Yes, indeed, I did have a shower cap.  I had a lot of shower caps as a matter of fact.  Then, the tears started.

Julie had very curly hair.  She hated washing her hair at my house because we use a water softener.  She maintained that the soft water made her hair impossible to work with.  She was right.  Soft water does not work well with curly hair.  The last time she was here, she searched for a shower cap so she wouldn't have to deal with frizzy hair if she showered without washing her hair.  Finally, after a search through drawers, and her sister's bags, a shower cap was produced.

A few weeks later, my husband and I went to Europe for a month.  It seemed that every hotel had a free shower cap next to the bathroom sink.  The river boat that we went on also provided shower caps.  I began to collect them all.  I thought it would be a fun souvenir from the trip.  I planned on surprising Julie with a new shower cap from somewhere in Europe every time she came home.

Of course, Julie never came home again.  Her last trip home was on Easter weekend of this year.  We left for Europe about two weeks later.  I had forgotten about the shower caps until today.  I had stowed them away in a bathroom drawer when we returned home, and there they remained.  Who knew a shower cap could make one cry?

Iceberg lettuce has the same effect.  When I encounter it in a salad, I either get teary eyed, or I have to smile to myself about how much Julie hated iceberg lettuce.  She called it white trash lettuce, or wt lettuce for short.  My girls and I can't eat it without thinking of Julie.  Who knew that lettuce could bring out these powerful emotions?

Today at church, I ran into a friend who lost her daughter 14 years ago.  She recalled how the little things can trigger a memory or a reminder.  She said for her it is cottage cheese.  Her daughter was the only one in the house to eat cottage cheese.  I understand how cottage cheese can make one be struck with the terrible reality of what has been lost.  I get that.  I know that something as simple as cottage cheese can make a mother cry like she just lost her baby because, you see, she did.  She lost her beautiful daughter to cancer, and now she no longer buys cottage cheese.   She and I belong to a club neither of us wanted to join.  We know how it hurts to lose a child.  She understands, really understands, why I cried over that shower cap before I went to church this morning.

13 comments:

#1Nana said...

Okay, I teared up on this one! Beautifully written and my heart aches for you.

Arkansas Patti said...

I can not imagine your grief. I can only hope that with the pain, you are able to enjoy the sweet memories and good times remembered.

michele said...

Sally, for me it is a glass! Mom was so tired of plastic and paper cups in the hospital, she really wanted a drink out of a glass. Everytime I grab a glass, it flashes through my mind. I completely understand your tears. Sorry. Keep writing, you have such a gift, I appreciate you sharing it.
Michele

Anonymous said...

Sally, I have nothing profound to say. Just want to express my gratitude for sharing your thoughts. Kathy Anne

Linda Reeder said...

What a beautiful job you did telling this story.
It's a terrible club you belong to, but I'm glad you have a fellow member to share with.

sallylwess said...

Yes, Linda, it is a terrible club. It has been helpful to know that I am not the first mother to join it. It is a thought that I come back to often.

Deb Shucka said...

My heart aches for you and I learn from you.

fiftyodd said...

Months after my mother died, my niece wrote with a Christmas card, that she was knitting a jersey for her son with the needles I had given her from the set that had belonged to my mom. Caught off guard, I wept buckets.

Janna Qualman said...

Hello, Sally. I'm here through your link at Deb Shucka's. It's nice to "meet" you, and I love that you're a retired English teacher. It was always my favorite class. :)

I'm so sorry for you lost. And I'm touched by your post because I lost my dad (to cancer) six months ago today. I still see and feel and think of him everywhere, though I suspect that will never change.

Best to you, and your memories.

Janna Qualman said...

PS. I saw a typo at the last second: I'm so sorry for your loss... I really and truly am. It's a beautiful post.

Kay said...

I'm so sorry, Sally. I can't even imagine how difficult it would be to lose a daughter. There must be all kinds of things everywhere to remind you of Julie. Please know we're all out here feeling for and with you.

Maggie May said...

Thank you so much for commenting on my post for the first time.
I have just read not only this post but several others explaining the death of your daughter in May. I am extremely sorry. These posts are beautifully written and you know that writing about your loss will be very therapeutic towards healing and you never know, you might be also helping someone else come to terms with their loss.
You are right. It is the little things that bring intense pain after a loss like that.
I have had to face up to losing loved ones over the years but I should imagine that nothing could compare with the loss of a child, though some would dispute that, I know.
Please stay in touch.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

I Wonder Wye said...

I am a facilitator for a grief-bereavement group at our church. One off-shoot of the group has kept meeting after the 8 week workshop and we now call ourselves "The Willows." We are resilient and deep rooted...one never 'gets over' a loss - particularly one as profoundly sad as the loss of a child -- over time it gets easier to cope...to see legacies...I am so sorry for your loss....your family has had some hard hits this year. Sometimes 'life' is a four-letter word...You sound like a strong woman with solid support and faith to lead you through the storms...blessings to you...