wheelbarrow full of old flowers in a garden

Letting Go

I saw you at the supermarket yesterday. You were sitting at the till punching in cash. I thought you looked tired – tired but beautiful. Yeah, I know, you don’t believe that is possible. But you did. Your eyes were droopy, and your face looked innocent. You puckered up your lips in concentration. The smooth curve of your lips was partly glossy from the Vaseline you must have applied.

I added a few things to my shopping basket and walked to the next aisle that had a better view of you. Your hair was as it had been yesterday; straightened, combed, and tied to a bun. Even though you worry that your hairline is receding too fast, too soon, I swear it’s okay. There’s no need to worry since you take after your mum. Your dad’s baldness will likely land on your brother but miss you.

Was that a necklace I spotted peering through your polo shirt? I thought you didn’t like the extra weight on your neck. But then could it be it was the weight of the antique one I got you that you didn’t like – the one I got at a sale. Though I still insist it was the in-thing since rappers had them on. The expression on your face, when I gave it to you, was not what I had pictured. But isn’t that the whole point of a surprise? Can I say that it was that good of a surprise that we both got surprised?

The queue of customers moved along. You raised your eyelids and looked into the face of the gent, a smile beaming across your face. It was that face. That’s the face I remembered seeing when I first met you. That expression got me falling on one knee, like the knight I was, pledging my allegiance to my queen. It took Thor’s hammer to break the ice and mastery of entomology to keep the butterflies I had in my belly still. It was more like a wedding proposal than an introduction. Had I been suffering from underlying health conditions, I doubt I would have survived approaching you.

I see you had your nails done. They are as you always liked to do them, magenta on each of your nails except for one finger. The odd finger got lapis blue on its nail this time. Or is that azure blue? Or cobalt blue? I’ll stick to a safe blue. I wonder if it carries meaning for you, that odd nail? It resembles a beauty that stands out. But then having an odd-coloured nail on each hand would mean two beauties standing out, wouldn’t it? I don’t like that illustration anymore.

What do you think about as you key in the loaves of bread or the green tool (that you also didn’t know was sold at your store)? Do you also know the right things to say to yourself to make you smile as you made me?

I wonder if your mind takes you back. Do you wander off through the thick of your memories – our memories? Do you take a second to stop and smell the flowers that we planted? Do you relax under the shade of the trees that we nurtured? Or appreciate the beauty that was our creation – our paradise?

Don’t worry, I’ll carry the weight of our memories for both of us. I will tend, prune and water our garden awaiting your return. I will carry the garden hoe and visit our past, collect the bits of us and nurture them to grow.

Could it be that I’m holding on to a graveyard rather than a garden? But then isn’t the graveyard a store of memory where the existence of the former is kept alive? Isn’t the grass at the graveyard to be tended to and the flowers watered? Shouldn’t the trees be trimmed? And the gravestones swept to reveal their former selves? Even a graveyard is evidence of a previous life – a celebration of life.

My shopping cart was full. That was all the taxes could afford me. I moved down the aisle towards the cashier’s desk. Then left the cart at the end of the aisle, far from your view, and walked through the exit as fast as possible. All in stealth.

I guess I have to take the long, long walk to the next store. Again.

I should have heeded my uncle’s advice, “Son, never date the cashier from your everyday, local store.”

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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