She found herself at the stoplight yesterday almost in tears. She can't really tell you why. The temperature was mild, the kids had gotten off to school okay, and her husband had made it back from his business trip all in one piece. She'd had a decent night's sleep and almost all of a cup of coffee. Everything should have been all right.
And yet, it wasn't.
Putting a hand to her forehead to feel if she was warm--because maybe a rogue fever was the cause of her errant behavior--she looked to her left. She was immediately taken in by the sun, whose light peeked over the top of the Shell gas station sign. She squinted, almost missing the man who walked across the street in front of her car. She looked once at him. He looked at her. He tipped his ball cap at her and smiled.
The simple gesture was enough to get her day back on track. She managed a wobbly smile, and shot it in the direction of the man, then proceeded to the grocery store, as was her habit each Tuesday morning. As she tossed produce and dairy into her basket, more concerned with the price of lettuce than the reason she'd cried at the stoplight, she began to feel better. Lighter. More at peace.
It wasn't until she made her way to the checkout line that the gravity of the situation floored her. For in front of her stood an older woman she'd seen before. The one who reminded her of her mother for some reason or another. The one who, unlike her mother, remained cognizant and lucid, able to speak in full sentences and hold a conversation. The woman who had held her babies when she unloaded her grocery cart all those years ago, despite the fact that they were strangers, and offered broad smiles that lit up her day in the midst of dark November mornings. Very much like her mother, but not. A surrogate mother, perhaps.
So she found herself almost in tears, again, thinking about what could have been and what never would be with respect to her own mom. And instead of loading her own groceries onto the conveyor bed, she mumbled her apologies to the store workers, pushed her cart to the side, and ran out the door.