As I drove down our road this morning, I realized that I was seeing things again--spiderwebs in the heads of dried Queen Anne's Lace that lined the road, the slant of early morning sun through fog and trees, a rabbit hiding beneath a bush. I almost stopped to pull out my camera. Almost.
Since Jon's been gone, I have taken few photos because little has inspired that "This is beautiful I've got to take a picture" feeling. I'm just not seeing it; what I see is my thoughts and memories, looking back to the past instead of into the present.
Sorrow is like a dark river that runs beneath the surface of every day, every night. It doesn't go away; it may run quietly and more shallow at times, but always I am aware of its current; it takes little to submerge me. Last night I struggled to keep my head above its waters as I tried to find words to comfort my granddaughter who is deeply mourning the loss of her well-loved uncle. Some people might think the young do not feel as deeply as an adult, but that is not true. Adults often have more tools to deal with pain; a teen searches for these tools blindly, usually turning only to friends who have even less experience. Like puppies, they huddle together, hiding from the rest of the world. The river runs in them too.
This morning the river was smooth, like glass, and I was floating on its surface. It was a peaceful feeling and I thought maybe this would be a good day after all.
I stopped to get gas and a car wash--the mud was literally dripping in big piles off my car, that's how sloppy it is up here right now. I figured I'd run it through the automatic wash and at least knock off the worst of it.
The clerk in the store recognized me when I went in the pay for the car wash. He'd been in school with Jon and my older sons, and he offered condolences. We talked a moment as he rang up my car wash and handed me the slip to sign for the debit card. I signed it and left.
During my morning break at work I pulled out my receipts to enter them in the checkbook register (yes, I do it the old-fashioned way; no Quicken for me--yet). As I did so I noticed that the slip for the car wash said $4.00. On the debit receipt, it said I'd paid $6.00 for the car wash.
I'd been had--while offering "condolences" the clerk blithely ripped me off for $2!
Now, it might have been an honest mistake. The car wash is usually $6 but with a fill-up there is a two dollar discount. He could have accidentally rung up the full amount and forgotten the discount, even though it was printed right on the car wash slip. Except...
This is the same store where a different clerk added her can of soda and candy bar to my receipt last summer. She rang her purchases in first but didn't total her sale; then rang up mine. When she handed me the debit receipt to sign, I looked at it and asked her why two bottles of water cost over $7.00. At first she looked at me like I was crazy and said that was just what it cost. So I added up the cost of the water, plus tax, for her. Then she admitted what she'd done and apologized. Was it truly an accident?
This morning's "mistake" ruined what had started out as a promising morning. The day turned gray, my nascent joy nipped back. It's silly to let such a small thing matter so much, isn't it? And yet there it is. The river boiled up and I spent most of the day at work trying to hold it in check.
In the afternoon a young man came in for an interview. His happy nature, clear eyes, and eagerness to find a job brightened the day and by the drive home the river was back in its banks, with sunlight glinting on the ripples.
But I sure did stop at that store and get my $2 back!