Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Girl in the Grocery Store

Here we are at another weekend. For some reason, weekends are the roughest waters to navigate. This marks a month after our oldest daughter's passing (technically, Monday will be one month exactly), so I actually anticipate this one to pose a unique challenge. Hopefully Marissa is letting the events of the past month take a back seat for once as she spends the weekend with her boyfriend's grandparents down in Rockport. Not sure exactly what fun there is with an elderly couple in Rockport, Texas, but it is not here, and I think that was enough incentive to have her excited. For Greg, figuring out the weekend syndrome is not all that hard. As tough as it is to get up the energy to go to work each day, it keeps his mind occupied. On Saturday and Sunday, in the dead zone between basketball and football seasons, there is ample time to reflect, and those reflections are painful. And, like most men not named Dr. Phil, he has a hard time expressing his emotions. He feels them, that was part of my initial draw to him, but he clams up when it comes time to try and express them, so they stay in there and ferment. For me, weekends are a little more perplexing. I have plenty to do. My weekends can be as crowded as I want them to be, and I only work part-time during the week leaving me time to muddle around in despair, so today and tomorrow should not be any different than any other day. Sure, I can't make calls and don't have appointments to keep, but I need deer food, there is the hallway that has needed painted for months, I need to wash cars (including the hated El Diablo), laundry, dog grooming, etc. The ladies in the audience totally get it. There is always something. But, I go through it too. Maybe because Greg is moping around more, maybe because weekends are traditionally supposed to be time to enjoy life a little, so I am more aware that life is not much fun right now, maybe because it is generally family time and I'm all too aware that a member of my family is forever gone. Maybe it's because Kelsey died on a Saturday. Probably it is all these things combined. All I can tell you for sure right now is that weekends are to be endured. Football, always a balm to my aches and pains, cannot come soon enough.

For me, this morning, however, I cannot get something else off my mind. Greg and I saw a ghost last night. We made a quick stop at the grocery store and, as we walked in, we came face-to-back with a young girl who, from behind, looked identical to Kelsey two years ago. I can't speak for Greg, but the first thing I saw was her butt (don't let your mind go there, wait until I explain why). Her expensive label jeans, I would unprofessionally judge them to be a size 1, were falling off, and she was doing her best to imitate a plumber. She had her hands up as though she were about to stretch, so her (also expensive) t-shirt was exposing her long torso. She was pencil thin. My eyes, in an instant, traveled the length or her body, focusing on the bony elbows and that tiny little behind that could not hold up her jeans. She was tall (hence I figured she had to at least have a size 1 for the length), and had that same long torso Kelsey had, and she was 100% without a doubt anorexic. You may be skeptical, thinking there are a lot of reasons for someone to be emaciated to that degree, some natural, some not so. I can tell you with complete conviction, there is a particular way the disease wraps itself around someone. I have zero doubt about my conclusion.

She had been walking back into the store to return to her boyfriend's side, so my eyes followed her path, and I caught a fast glimpse of him, a Daughtry wannabe with tattoos up and down the exposed portions of both arms. He met my gaze, and I know he thought here was this old, fussy couple passing immediate judgement on them. If only he really knew. As we walked past, Greg whispered, "That was rough." Then, a moment later, he added, "I wanted to go up to her and tell her about Kelsey." The fact that we didn't say anything has been on my mind ever since. Not that I think it would have done much good. I can tell you with pretty absolute certainty where she is at in her head, and she is not ready to believe she has an issue. Or maybe she knows her issue well enough, but thinks she has a handle on it. Either way, she was clearly too proud of her appearance to be ready to set it aside. I know for a fact that what she sees when she looks in the mirror is very, very different than the wasted body my husband and I saw. We would have had a better shot with the man, because my guess he knows somewhere deep down something is wrong, but he appeared to still be too young and too rebellious to take heed. And I have been wondering about that aspect of it: the men in their lives. My guess is I saw, in the briefest of glimpses last night, a classic enabler. But why does he do it? I have some wild guesses. But, I'm not sure.

I wonder what my obligation to her was. The same mind-set that makes me feel compelled to stop and try and rescue every stray dog I see is gnawing at me that I had a responsibility to that girl that I did not fulfill. Do I? Or am I just trying to wash away some of my guilt over Kelsey by saving someone else? Is it enough that I would help anyone who came to me and asked for it, that I will share Kelsey's most intimate details with whomever wants them? Or is there a moral imperative to reach out to anyone you see in mortal danger? Would I have walked away from her if she was being assaulted? I hope not. So, how is this different? Just because the assault is on herself.

And then there was her polar opposite that I saw a few minutes later when we went to check out. A woman, older than the girl we had just seen, but younger than us by, I would roughly guess, a decade, walked past us, or rather labored past us. She was easily 300 pounds. I thought to myself that I had just seen modern society illustrated. A nation of extremes. But food being a central focal point for both. Then I caught myself wondering which woman would die first. My money was on the anorectic. But either way, I feel pretty confident that the odds are heavily in my favor to outlive them both.

Who knew a simple trip to the grocery store could yield such weighty moral issues? Problem is, I need to go back today. Maybe I will come home internally debating world peace or race relations in the Bible belt. As long as I make it home with everything on my list this time, I guess I'll call it a win.

1 comment:

  1. I think all of us have and obligation to help others. But here's the thing, it takes two people to do that, the person who wants and is a position to give it and the person who needs and is willing to accept it. Two people, not just one. You can't MAKE someone better, you can't control the outcome of another person's choices or life (sometimes, not even your own). So, I don't think you had an obligation to go up to her. As you said, she probably wouldn't listen, and I don't want you to get hurt. Especially now. There are other ways to help and do some good...for those who need it and are ready to accept it. Give yourself some time.