This is a big thank you to all my ZFWers who, last year at this time, were so kind and understanding to me as I faced the one-year anniversary of Connie’s death. I had no idea what to expect from myself emotionally, and neither did they. But they were all so supportive of me. And it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t scary. I didn’t have any sort of emotional breakdown, or anything like that. It was another day in my life. Just a little bit sadder than most. And I was in Lufwanyama, Zambia. Away from my family. I worried about them, but what could I do? I was a million miles away.
Some weeks later I received a notification from the post office in Ndola that there was a package for me. The package was from Phil and it instructed me to open it only on July 29th. However, July 29th had long ago come and gone. So I opened it anyway. I found a nice quiet place and began to look through all the wonderful pictures that Phil had sent me. He had also sent me a small tape player with headphones and a tape. (These types of things are against TMIs rules. But I popped the tape in and listened anyway.) The tape was of him talking. And of music. I smiled as I wept. I never thought I’d make it through a year. But I had. And so had Phil. And so had his kids. And so had we all. And what a wonderful thing for Phil to do for me…to have planned that far ahead to do something in memorial for my best friend and his wife. I think he’s the only person who really understands how much that girl meant to me.
And, unbelievably, now it has been two years.
Soooooo, in memory of Connie, here’s an e-mail of hers that she might have turned into a blog posting had she ever become a blogger! (I am posting it exactly as written and without any editing…)
Sent: Monday, September 13, 1999 11:47 PM
Subject: The Store
I should know better than to go grocery shoppping with four children under the age of eight but after we had consumed everything edible in the house except for a jar of sweet pickles and a frozen tamale it is something that just had to be done. Before we even got into the parking lot Richard and Alaska have all but gouged one another’s eyes out over the radio. Richard jumped at the chance to stay in the car so he could listen without any disruptions while I braved the store. As I was extricating Avalon from the car Mr. three year old I-CAN-DO-IT-MYSELF decided he would get a cart. Not just any cart will do. We have to use the limo cart that has additional seating added on the back to make it extra specially hard to start, stop and maneuver corners. As Alaska was busy getting in her parting punches at Richard I see Jon way over by the cart rack tugging with all his might on the line of carts. Now I must digress here for a moment and ask why do they design the fronts of grocery stores with a sloping entrance? Of course the incline is heading down away from the store and towards the parking lot. I guess this is for the people who have $500 to spend on groceries and only shop once a month so they are able to push their grossly overladen cart out to their car. However if you are like me, $100 worth of groceries barely covers the bottom of the cart and sometimes I can even get them all in the house in one trip. So here I am past the point of no return in having Avalon out of the car when Jon manages with a fnal mighty heave to get the cart out of line. Of course all that momentum carries the cart into the gravity zone. The next thing I know he is being dragged by the cart out into the lot and headed straight for the nearest parked cars. By this time the cart has developed a mind of its own and even if I was Carl Lewis and unencumbered of the 30 pound babyseat I would not be able to stop this lumbering metal behemoth. Now this cart had a choice between a banged up old 70’s sedan and a brand new foreign luxury car. It makes straight for the alarm infested auto. My life at this point goes into slow motion. As Jon is struggling valiantly to hang on and his little feet dragging and twisting all around he managed to impede the determined dent inflicter long enough for me to intercede in the nick of time. I took a deep breath, loaded up the cart with my children, and pushed my way uphill toward the door. All of the sudden the cart is no longer an ordinary means of conveyance but an airplane with my children’s arms serving as wings. Actually I believe it turned into a hummingbird–at least airplain wings remain fixed. At the end of the first aisle as I am attempting my first big turn Jon makes a full body lunge for the promotional 5′ high cardboard display of crackers. The display goes over in it’s entirety carrying with it dozens of boxes of Waverly’s and Cheese Nips. It must have been some big sale because there were at least four of those stupid plastic price signs that they use product to hold to the shelf and if you happen to grab the wrong box go clattering noisily to the floor. At this exact moment in time I think every customer in the store must have converged at this strategic corner because all of the sudden it was like being on the 405 freeway at 5PM. The butcher came over and assisted the reconstruction of the cracker tower. I continued onward taking care to remain in the exact center of each aisle. We actually managed to finish the shopping without further incident and headed for the checkout. Alaska started to unload the basket while I checked one aisle over to grab a pack of batteries. I am finally starting to relax and the basket is beginning to get to the point where Alaska can no longer reach over and get things when the checker asks the lady in front of us if the baby food was hers. Neither the lady ahead nor us had been paying much attention and we had neglected to put one of those little divider thingies down between our myriad’s of stuff. Half of our groceries were being loaded up by the bagger into her cart. After the checker voided at least a dozen items and everything was backed up on the couunter about 2 feet high she decided it would be best to void the whole order and have someone take her over to another register. The only good thing about all this was that the lady in front of us was not the least big upset by the whole thing and checker calmed down after she realized that no one was going to explode. I figured the lady must have kids of her own because a lot of the items she bought were similar to ours — right down to the Wonder Bread. I’m sure this must account for her not realizing sooner the mix up and also for her understanding. Maybe it had happened to her before and it is also the reason she was grocery shopping by herself. Connie
(posted in absentia)