The Grocery Store Is My Bugbear

The day was much like this one. Sunny, blue skies, just gorgeous. It was warmer, though. And Saturday. Great day for a motorcycle ride through Harriman (State Park, NY.) Things hadn’t been going well for us. The stresses of being so young with so much responsibility had taken its toll. But just the week prior, when I offered him an out with an open door when he was ready to come home again, he didn’t take it. He loved me. He loved our kids. He didn’t want to lose us. For the first time in months, we were happy. A solid week happy. Then came that Saturday, and the bike ride he never came home from.

It’s been thirty years.

I’ve always been a person for whom food = love. I loved grocery shopping, making meals, packing lunches. Always have, even when I was a kid helping out a friend’s parents when they threw parties. Food = love. That’s just who I am.

In the grocery store with my sister, in the days after Brian’s death, I came to the soda aisle and spotted A&W cream soda on sale. Gross. I hate cream soda, but I knew someone loved it. Who? Whowhowho?? It was really bugging me, because I knew it wasn’t my brother or sister, my parents. I certainly didn’t give Jamie soda. She wasn’t even three. And then I remembered who loved cream soda. Hit me right between the eyes, sucker-punched me in the heart. I crouched down right there in the soda aisle and cried. Poor Jamie, eating her weekly animal crackers, a treat that had always been her reward for being such a good girl. Maybe it was right there she decided she would never, ever make me cry. My girl. She never has.

The grocery store was my bugbear*. I went every week anyway. My kids needed to eat. It took a while, but it stopped being a testament to my fortitude and went back to being a mundane way to love my children. Frank and I have always done this weekly task together, from day one of our marriage, kids and all. Until they were old enough to stay home by themselves.

The grocery store is again my bugbear. It had shrunk down to a tiny black speck in the back of my brain, all these years since the cream soda crushed me. Now it’s fully-formed again. It loves catching me unaware as I reach for a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch that split moment before I remember the one I always bought it for is gone. It loves to taunt me at the fish counter when I pass over the soft-shell crabs. Gatorade on sale? Who cares? No one here drinks it anymore. Chris was a big guy. He loved to eat and was very specific about his strange tastes. Thus every aisle reminds me, taunts me, pricks tears out of me. I sing in the aisles of the Shop Rite that plays the 70s music my 14-year old hind brain remembers all the words to. Before, it was just fun. Now, it’s more whistling past the graveyard.

Drake’s Funny Bones get me to this day, because they were the one splurge I always made for Brian, when we were so poor there was no splurging on anything. If I see them, I choke up a little, but I smile. What a strange and adorable thing for a man to love. It will happen with soft-shell crabs and Gatorade and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I know. Right now, though, the Bugbear is flexing its muscles. Guess I’m going to have to flex my own whether I want to or not.

*1. a cause of obsessive fear, irritation, or loathing. 2. an imaginary being invoked to frighten children, typically a sort of hobgoblin supposed to devour them.


Filed under Family, Life's honest moments

12 responses to “The Grocery Store Is My Bugbear

  1. Aching for you. Grieving never goes away as you well know. Sometimes it hides for a while, but then…Keep writing. We who love you will keep reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The little things. I scent, a box of cereal, a song. They have great power over our day to day, but we think so little about them while we’re busy just in the act of living. Good post. You know I hurt with you…keep flexing. You’ll get stronger.


  3. Elise Feldman

    Wow. I came onto your website to check it out and drop you a note about how fun and lovely it was to meet you at Saturday’s Writers Conference. Your blog has me… crying… I cannot imagine the pain that has hit you. And it scares me that I know too many whose children have passed – three from car accidents – at least two from drunk drivers – and one from an overdose. Each time I hear from / about one of those parents, it chills me.

    But I will also say here – even though it feels strange to have just met you and already read this intimacy – that I appreciate your generosity at the conference – sharing information, offering more even afterwards. And I do hope to see you sometime again.

    I won’t look at a grocery store the same way again.


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Hello, Elise! I hesitated to give out my blog address mostly because it has gone from a writer’s blog to a grieving mother’s blog, but–what the hell. It will be a writer’s blog again, and I’m glad you came in. I hope this didn’t bum you out too much.

      We both live in CT. Getting together is a snap! Keep writing. Keep networking. And know you can always call on me. XX


  4. What a powerful piece! I feel your sorrow and am in awe of your strength!


    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      Hello, sweetling. When I said my son called me Turtle, this is the son. He died in June. Thank you for finding me here. It’s so wonderful to find kindred. ❤


      • I cannot imagine your pain. Time will not take it away, but it will heal the open wound! I’m so happy to have met you tonight. I’ll keep you in my prayers! I’m looking forward to getting to know more about you and your books, but right now I just want to send you hugs and prayers!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Terri-Lynne DeFino

        Every gesture of love is appreciated, and absorbed. 🙂 Thanks, Bev. Looking forward to getting to know you, too.


  5. Lynne Reive

    Sometimes I hesitate to read your blog out of fear for the feelings it stirs. I tear, and at the same time, I am in awe of your strength. The strength you show in your writings, and the strength you show in your survival of the pain you’ve endured. I remember that day 30 years ago. This blog is your blog to write as you wish. I envy you the talent of putting your feelings to word so exquisitely. You are amazing, Terri Lynne. You didn’t get that from your namesake. (: My heart is always with you. ((Hugz))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terri-Lynne DeFino

      I’m at a loss for words, Lynne. This touches me deeply. Wow. Look what you’ve done! Me. Speechless. Inconceivable!
      Love you to the moon and back. XX


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