It started off quietly, just crocodile tears rolling silently down my cheeks. I thought I might actually be able to stop it before it got out of hand and no one would be the wiser. WRONG!
I was standing in line at a little shop in Disneyland waiting to buy Mickey ears. Problem is, they were ears for Boe. His sister and brothers all have ears, and I decided Boe needed his own. I knew just what I wanted, Baby Blue ears with his name embroidered on the back.
I picked them off the shelf and found my place in line. As I thought about seeing his name on his ears, the tears started. I was reminded that he would never place them on his head and pull at the elastic, he would never outgrow them and need a new pair, there would never be the picture of my "3 Mouseketeers" in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle. These ears would remain empty, pristine, suspended in time.
I tried my best to put these feeling aside as I stepped up to the counter, and as I said, I almost managed to do it. But then, the cashier asked for the name I wanted on the hat and how it was spelled. My throat closed up, but somehow I managed to choke out B O E and then pay for the ears.
As I stepped away from the counter looking down at my wallet as I tried to jam my change back inside, I had no more fight in me. The tears took over and the sobbing began. As luck would have it, at that moment, my best friend who was with us, walked in to the store and asked me what was wrong. All I could do was hang my head further as I tried to find the words to tell her what was wrong.
I finally managed to explain that Boe deserved to wear his ears, he SHOULD BE THERE to wear the damn ears. She understood immediately and helped me calm down. Of course, people in the store were staring, but I soooooo did not care. I felt like Biff in the movie "Back to the Future"; I seriously considered looking right at those who were staring at me and shouting, "What are you lookin' at, Butthead?"
I fought this urge, wiped my tears, composed myself and walked to the counter to pick up Boe's hat. The cashier must have had a sense of what had transpired because she looked at me very sympathetically, place the ears very gently in a bag and told me she hoped I'd be able to enjoy the rest of my day.
I am sure that this will happen to me again on numerous occasions over the course of time that I have left in this life. Will I be more prepared? Will I be able to take control of my emotions more quickly? Probably not. That's the funny thing about grief, it does not wait for a "more appropriate" time or place. It rears its ugly head when it wants, where it wants, it does not hold back.
It is like the tide lapping at the shore or a beach goer's ankles. Sometimes it is peaceful, there, something simply to be tolerated but not bothersome. Then, in the blink of an eye, it surrounds you, engulfs you, pulls you under and leaves you gasping for air as you struggle to the surface.
No, there is no way to prepare for it, there is no way to escape it; it is only to be endured and hopefully, God willing, bring strength to those who must fight it.