I swing over to the intersection of Ingersoll and Martin Luther King on my way to work, just two blocks out of my way. I slide my Mediacom bill into the drop box, hop in the car, turn around and head for the stoplight. For some reason, my eyes blip over to Medically Yours across the street.
It's always there. I see it nearly every day. See it, but don't notice it. This time, for just a moment, it digs in.
Medically Yours sells used and refurbished health care equipment--beds, respirators, canes. And walkers, which is what Mom was looking for when we stopped in there in the spring of '05.
We celebrated her birthday by going to a movie (Woody Allen's Melinda And Melinda) and out to eat (strangely, I can't recall where), and we stopped at PetCo to buy food for her beloved dog Rufus. But it was slow going with her old walker, which had no place for her to set her purse as she moved along. I told her about Medically Yours, I didn't know what they had or what their prices were like, but it might be a place to get an upgrade.
So we went, and she found a nice newer-style walker, with a basket for her purse and a shelf which could double as a bench if she needed to sit down. She seemed happy with her purchase, and thanked me for recommending the store to her.
That was in April. She had less than a year to live. That summer, she'd get sick and they'd find the cancer and...
Don't think of this. Not now, not ever. Still. I can't not drive past this store; it's in my neighborhood. If I looked at it every day, really looked at it, I'd be seized by unending moments of sorrow, much like the one I'm fighting right now, sneaking up on my in the early morning hours when I'm not prepared to fight it away.
Everything in the world can have powerful associations with people who are no longer here. We all walked down the same streets, breathed the same air, felt the same warm sun. But the world still exists even after they're gone. Not every waking moment can be spent mourning.
So these connections to the past get put somewhere out of sight, in a drawer or behind a curtain, shut away, shut away, never to trouble conscious thoughts. But inevitably, the drawer pops open or the curtain flutters and drops to the ground, and there it is, there it is, the reality that can't be denied. And the compulsion to stare is overwhelming: Remember this place! Remember this moment! Remember this person, gone forever!
The light is green. I turn off Ingersoll onto King, glimpsing Medically Yours one more time in the rearview mirror as I head off to the rest of my day, whatever it may bring.