It’s Saturday and I am at CostCo doing some shopping.
Shopping relaxes me. It allows me to focus on pleasant things like meal planning, comparison shopping, and recipes. This is particularly good after all the news of the previous week. So although I don’t enjoy CostCo, with it’s packed aisles and the huge number of people in it, I’m having a fairly relaxing time of it. I am way at the back of the store when I get a message from D.
D. is a dear friend of ours. D. is also someone who takes a very concrete view towards problem solving. D. is proactive. D. hasn’t just been waiting around for us to ask for help, D. has been working on solutions to our problems. D. has contacts. D. knows people. D. is smart.
D. has found some help for us. D. has found someone who can help us sort out some visa paperwork problems so that if required we can make a run for Canada for treatment without having to worry about not being able to come back.
There have been many, many people over the course of the week who have written to us or called us with messages of support and offers to help. But this is different. D.’s message represents the first concrete step towards solving any of the problems that we have run into this week. It is, literally, the first piece of good news we have gotten since “And I found a lump”.
The news hits a harmonic frequency in my lachrymal ducts, like the ringing of a bell, and suddenly I am in tears. Yes, again. This one piece of good news catches me completely by surprise. I have armored myself so well to be stoic towards bad news, to be ready to take whatever life throws at us, to be strong because she needs me to be strong, and positive because she needs me to be positive, that I have left myself wide open emotionally to the devastating effects of good news.
There is so much relief packed into that one short message. It is so powerful, this one little counterpoint to all the bad news on top of bad news on top of bad news that has been piling up for days. I can’t resist it. It hits me like a bus full of sunshine and kittens.
As my grandmother used to say, the floodgates are opened. And I am standing there in the crowded aisle between the bacon and the juice cases, just crying with with the sheer relief of something going right. Some people turn away. Some people stare. An old Asian man scowls and shakes his head. Maybe he thinks I am on drugs. Surprisingly, no one initially comes up and asks if I am OK – most people just continue shopping around me as I cry and my nose gets runny and I try to text D. back to say “thank you” but can’t because my hands are shaking and I have a hard time making out the keys on my phone.
I do have to move my shopping cart because someone wants to get into the juice case. I apologize for being in the way, “sorry, sorry”.
I am just starting to get myself together again when a CostCo employee shows up, talking into the radio and giving a code ( a part of my mind finds amusement at the idea that Costco may have a radio code for “weeping customer in the cold cases”) and then says, very deferentially – and standing just far enough back from me to be noticeable – “Sir, are you all right?”
And I am standing there with my snotty nose and tears running down my face and into my beard and my hands shaking and my legs weak, with my shopping cart full of industrial sized bags of broccoli and beans, and for just a moment I cannot even imagine how I can explain all this and the whole scene strikes me as hilarious. I try to laugh and it comes out more like a series of hiccups. But that does the trick and I am back in control. Wiping my eyes, I say to the nice CostCo employee. “Yes. Yes, I’m all right. Sorry for causing a commotion. I just got some very good news!”
Later, as I am finishing up my shopping, I pick up a giant CostCo bouquet of roses to take home. She likes flowers. I make sure they are pink.