I didn’t expect it. It was early Sunday afternoon. After a final four intense hours of work, I had just left school and my report cards were done. Finis! Complete! With almost 48 hours to spare! The weight was off my shoulders and I practically skipped out of the building and into my car, singing all the way. About ten minutes later, entering the grocery store, I was still slightly giddy with joy.
I walked into the produce section and a pyramid of gleaming scarlet fruit immediately caught my eye — cherries! Oh! I should get some cherries. Connor loves them. And then I remembered. Connor had moved out this weekend. I didn’t need to consider him as I shopped. I’d sent him off with some staples from our pantry just yesterday morning and now…Well, now he was no longer on my grocery list.
In the past 2-3 months, my son has gotten (finally!) his driver’s license, graduated from college, bought a car, got a job, signed a lease for his first apartment, and moved in with his girlfriend. That’s a lot of life changes. I know they’re really about him, but I get caught up a bit in the turbulent wake.
On Sunday I stood in the grocery store and realized- Everything’s changed. I’d been expecting this for years now. Freshman year. Spring break. First summer. There had already been long stretches of time where I wasn’t shopping for him. But really, he’d still been around, part of the family planning, his preferences a staple on my grocery list, his return just a holiday or long weekend away. This was no longer true. It was a startling realization. Disconcerting.
After a few misty moments, I slowly passed the cherries. I picked up some avocados for Adeline and then saw the stacked packets of pistachios—Nope. I don’t need those. I walked to the back of the store and passed by the deli—No ham and sliced cheese today. In the cracker aisle, I tossed in a box of lightly salted rice crackers for Lydia. We won’t need as many Ritz crackers anymore. Meandering down the juice aisle, I grabbed some cranberry juice and eyed the rainbow-colored Gatorade bottles. No need to consider which flavor to buy this week. I continued my shopping, passing cheese sticks, yogurt drinks and bags of chips, and collecting other items still necessary to our household.
Connor’s well and truly on his own now. I know this is how it should be and I’m proud of him and happy for him. But part of me is mourning. I know this is natural; I just didn’t expect it to hit me in the produce section. Another writer could probably find a rich metaphor in this grocery store moment–something about food, love, nourishment. All I know is that I checked out with a slightly emptier cart, feeling more than slightly bereft.