I walked to the local grocery store the other day in the cool early morning. I enjoyed watching the neighborhood wake up. I heard laughing and giggling from the children as they arrived at the school behind my apartment building. The earsplitting noise from the heavy garbage trucks jarred me as I walked down the block. These trucks moved slowly down the street meticulously emptying the black cans lined up awaiting their turns. As I moved quickly to the next block to escape the garbage trucks, it was quieter and I could hear the sweet gentle bird calls. And the sky – wow – light pink hues with hints of yellow as the sun rose into the blue sky. Stunning!

Typically, I like the early morning visits to this grocery store. I greet the workers with a smile and “good morning” and they cheerfully return my greeting. The cashiers are friendly and we wish each other a great day. And for me the best part is that the store isn’t crowded. I select the few items I can carry and head home.

The other day, the visit wasn’t typical. The store was crowded. The workers seemed rushed. And it seemed as if everyone’s husband was doing the shopping. I felt as if I was the only woman among all of the men. I felt as if some people were looking at me oddly, and asking “Why are you here? Where’s your husband?” Of course these men weren’t asking those questions; it just felt that way.

My eyes started to burn. I felt the tears forming. Can’t someone smile at me? Why am I shopping here today? Where, indeed, is my husband?

I became confused and couldn’t remember what I came to the store for. Whoa…hold on. You can do this, I said to myself. Breathe. Again, breathe. Having remembered my short list, I walked purposefully to the shelves and selected the few items. Then I had to wait in line. And wait.

One man smiled in my direction, “Place your items on the counter; it’ll be easier to wait.” With those simple words, this gentleman had just handed me a lifeline. Someone noticed me; someone said a kind word. “Thank you; that is a good idea,” I responded.

Widowhood. I sometimes feel out-of-place. These feelings catch me unaware – like in the corner grocery store.

The sad, lonely feelings don’t last long. They do surface though – when I least expect it. And then they dissipate … into the bright morning sunlight that greeted me as I left the store.