“I’d say one seventy-two.”
“No, closer to one forty-nine.”
I overheard this conversation in the line as I checked out at a grocery store, in a city I can’t actually remember. But the scene was familiar and so was what those two people were doing. They were guessing. Guessing the total of their grocery bill and waiting for the results. I can’t remember who won because my memory immediately went back to the days when I’d grocery shop with my Aunt Cardie and we’d do the exact same thing. In fact it was rare for us not to.
Aunt Cardie would say, “What’s your guess?” and I would, in all honesty, pick a pretty random number without actually putting a ton of forethought into what we were buying. Sometimes I got lucky but most of the time she was spot on. I’d guess too high and she would say, “God, I hope you’re not right. That’s too much.” I’d laugh and occasionally the checker would get in on the game too and make their guess. One time, I think maybe we were in Nashville by then, she voiced her guess and ended up being off by one penny. One. We were floored. I’m glad we never made bets because I certainly would have been in the hole.
It’s fairly average moments like this that take my breath away. This sinking feeling that I’ll never get to do this mundane thing with her ever again. Two years and many grocery shopping trips later and I don’t play the guessing game anymore. Recently, I saw a restaurant that reminded me of college and how I got to take my mom and aunt with me to experience a day in the life. And I relived my aunt’s face all over again as she picked out her noodles, veggies and meat to be flash cooked on a huge circular girl. She loved life and she loved us. And our feelings couldn’t have been more mutual about her.
It’s interesting to me how much more excruciatingly painful the grief is for me today than it was even a year ago. My feelings ebb and flow and for the most part my days are great, but in a split second a nice moment can turn into heart shattering sadness. Confusion over how this could have happened and fear over whether or not I’ll be able to see her again.
But here we are, year 2. I got a bottle of Moscato to make a cheers to her life, and I have to tell you auntie, it was pretty damn good. It gave me a little heart burn in the middle of the night but it was all worth it. Any way I get to celebrate you, think of you, and remember you just keeps as much of you here with us as we can make humanly possible.
I love you (we all love you) to pieces and bits!