I now belong to a club I never wanted to join, and didn’t apply for membership. A child who has lost a parent. Granted, I’m not a child anymore, but to her- I was her baby.
In the month since our mother died, I see my grief come in waves. Some days, it’s low tide. The day will pass with some focus, a little effort, and I can get to the end of it with a dull sense of awareness. Then comes the storm, grief crashing over the wall, and I struggle to even stand on two feet. I have the sense to let it all wash over me, I realize in doing so- I am grieving in a healthy way. I’m letting it happen as I think it’s supposed to.
Market Basket is my trigger. You see, we connected on our love for Market Basket, as silly as it sounds. Mom would save me the fliers that would come in her paper each week, and I would look through them, seeing her notes for her own grocery list. She loved hearing my strategy for shopping early in the morning to avoid the crazy. It was like a shared battle, she always wanted to know when I was going, and how I fared.
She, like me, loved the Greek drama of the DeMoulas’ in 2014– she was firmly Team Artie T. and we lamented on the struggles we had finding alternatives when they couldn’t keep their shelves stocked. Every celebration– Mothers’ Day, birthday, Christmas— brought her another Market Basket gift card.
My first visit to Market Basket since her death was routine enough at 6 a.m. The same dozen or so early birds, morning quiet in the parking lot, and the sun just starting to glow on those sparkly Christmas trees they have put up on the lampposts for the last 40+ years. They remind me of Mom too. I truly believe she would have put one in her driveway if she could have gotten her hands on one.
I felt her when I walked through the store- all the years my sister and I were in tow with her at the store in Haverhill, times I would take her to the one in Nashua, all with me on that one trip since her passing. It was heavy and empty all at the same time. When I finally reached the register, I was stunned at how emotional I was. In front of me in line was a woman, she had the twinkle in her eyes like Mom, smiled at me, and pulled out her gift card to pay for her groceries. I made it to the car before the wave crashed over me. I explained this to the only other person I believe can truly understand my loss, my sister. She’s the one who told me that Market Basket is my trigger- she is right.
So many people have told me that the “firsts” would be hard since the passing of a loved one. I never expected a trip to Market Basket to be a first, but it was. I’m coming to realize it’s not just the holidays and milestones, it is the routine too. It’s what made us mother and daughter- she was my greatest cheerleader through the most normal, everyday things. She wanted us to have victories in life, no matter how small it might seem. Getting through a trip to Market Basket will be a victory to me at some point. It seems ridiculous, but I know she will celebrate it too.