The other morning I had some time to go shopping while the kids were in school. Even being able to say that is a gift. The fact that I have two children who have survived long enough to both be school aged is something for which I am extremely grateful. With that said, it felt so good to go shopping by myself, oh my God.
I leisurely strolled the shiny, clean mall floors, watching the employees in their early 20’s fumble with keys and push up the clattering store gates. I both coveted their youth and also thanked my lucky stars to not be that age anymore.
I picked up a couple of shirts and decided to go home. As I headed out, I passed by Crazy 8’s. It’s a children’s clothing store and where I went to buy Jay a hat when he died. After they completed his autopsy, his skull was so fractured that they didn’t want us to see him for the viewing without a hat. So I found myself, less than two weeks after the accident, at that mall, in that store, searching for a hat for my son who died. I saw a dark blue ascot hat with two white stripes in the display window. When I went inside, there wasn’t a lot else to choose from. It didn’t matter. That hat would be cremated with him. When I went to the register to pay for it, it was bizarre knowing that the employees had no idea why I was buying this hat. No, I don’t need this giftwrapped. I paid for the hat, thinking about how I was in there two months earlier buying Jay socks for Christmas. It is details like this that stay with you forever.
“That store always fucks with me,” I thought, as I stared at it now. I normally try not to look at that store when I go, but this time I lingered, my neck craning to keep looking after I’d passed it.
I got into my car and made my way out of the parking lot. That heavy feeling in my heart that I used to have constantly, returned. It feels like something is squeezing your heart while also pulling it down. And as I felt my eyes fill up with tears, I smiled.
There you are. I’ve missed you.