I saw my mom at the grocery store the other morning.
That would be a totally normal statement if my mother had not died almost three months ago.
The woman so closely resembled her that I stopped cold. Her clothing, her height and the shape of her body. Her hair color and style. It was my mom when she was healthy. When she was still my mom.
Apparently I unconsciously walked after her in the parking lot. I knew it wasn't her. I know it wasn't her, I do. But I had to see her face. And even the partial profile I managed to glimpse looked enough like my mom to seize my heart.
She never saw me, didn't even glance in my direction. I stood motionless in the middle of an early morning parking lot for what felt like an eternity as I watched a stranger walk away from me, oblivious to my struggle.
I hadn't been thinking about my mother or dwelling on her death that morning. It was business as usual. I was on my way to work, getting my Starbucks from inside the Marion Kroger. My phone was in hand preparing to call a friend. I hadn't been building up to an emotional upheaval.
Blindsided is the only word for the experience. It felt like an actual physical impact. And I'm not sure if I can survive a lifetime of these unexpected moments.
When does the pain ease into fond memories? Will I ever be able to reminisce without experiencing every negative emotion a human can feel?
For a millisecond I truly thought that woman was my mom. The hopeful lurch my heart gave was utterly terrifying. In a blink I knew it wasn't her and I felt as empty as I did the day we buried her. Empty with a dull, sick ache at my core.
Dear God, I could never have imagined just how hard this would be.
Clearly this post isn't about my daughter. But maybe someday when she's older she will want to read about how I processed this. Or maybe it's just therapy for me.