The cart, child-size perfect for you to shop like a grown-up and do what I do. Made of metal, heavy and constructed well. A blur of red, as you blaze through the aisles, paying attention only to what catches your eye.
I ask you what feels like 100 times, slow down, take a breath, it’s not a race, hold on, keep your head up, be careful of others, it is a privilege to use this cart, it can quickly be taken away. You do your little dance, make silly noises, tell me “Uuuhhh, I can do it, leave me alone”.
I take the breath I offered you, offer myself some encouragement too. Continue to check items off my list, eggs, apples, yogurt, and slip in a few extra treats. My mind is continuously rolling through the list, I know you are behind me, ah there is the bread.
SLAM! A sharp pain grows deep in my leg. Am I bleeding? Can I walk? Anyone going to say anything?
There are many witnesses to this accident but all are frozen like statues with no way to break free. Time is standing still no one is there to save me.
You are turning red, afraid, tears welling up in your eyes, I am in serious pain, my bare heel aching, I’ve lost my breath I know it is here some place. The silence, stillness, break in the routine feels like so long although only seconds are passing. No one steps in, offers condolences or a lighthearted moment to ease the tension and the pain.
I am on my own, as it feels I always am in moments like this, alone, unprotected, exposed, suffering. I lower my head, hand to my chest, feel my breath reminding me it is here. I hear it loud and clear. I say nothing, I just start to move, yes I can walk, forward it is.
I look back after a moment, you are following me, not crying but worried trying to find the words to say, “Are you okay?”. I stop, let you catch up, get down on one knee, it feels good to let the weight off, my heel now pounding though not bleeding, that is a relief.
I ask you if you know that you really hurt me. You say yes, quietly, then you squirm off my knee. We still need milk and butter the emotions between us thick and sticky. You stay close, slow your pace, see more than just what you want to see.
As I put the last item in my cart I hear from out of no where “Excuse me, you are a rock star!”. A mom with a two-year-old sitting in her cart, she saw everything and wanted to make sure that I knew that she saw me. She wondered emphatically how did I mange to stay so calm, stay within, not let out my hurt, throw it all over my son and stand up for my heel, my body, that was so hurt. “If I was in your place, I would have screamed, no question.” A genuine smile washed over my face, the simplest answer is that today, gratefully, I am in a good mental place.