Saturday, February 18, 2012

Broken-Hearted People

While waiting for a buy offer at Plato's Closet, I dashed into Joann's Fabric Store to use the restroom but immediately found myself standing mesmerized in front of discounted Valentine merchandise. Not because of the items, or the prices, but because I was eavesdropping on an elderly customer's conversation with the cashier. She was buying fabric to make a head covering for a recent scar on her forehead and I started being nosy too late to find out how she came to have the scar.

She was obviously a regular who had not been in to the store in awhile because the cashier, Michelle, asked her why it had been so long.

"Well, I lost a brother." I glanced over to her, one hand on her chest, like she was holding her heart in, the other thin, pale hand splayed on the glass counter.

"What? How?" Michelle asked, with genuine concern.

"You know the one I've been caring for? He was crippled."

"Yes. How? What happened?"

"A hit and run. A hit and run when he got off the DART bus to go to work. Can you believe that? A hit and run?"

I think she said hit and run ten times. I couldn't move. I imagined an old Chloe talking about her brother, Chaz. I felt sick. A man came up to purchase and he must have heard part of the story too because when Michelle apologized, he encouraged them to keep talking and paid for his item quietly.

"How'd you get through all that?"


I finally made my way around the shelf to the other side with a broken-heart cookie cutter. When the elderly lady asked Michelle how her son was doing, she said "He's a senior now, and getting handsomer every day. You know everyday is just one day closer to him leaving me and I'm struggling."

Caleb's not even a senior and I already feel this way.

Why am I here, God? I just needed to use the restroom before running to the grocery store, and now I had to pry myself from the discounted Valentine section and remember my purpose. I walked through the store in a fog, finally found the restroom and left without buying the broken-heart cookie cutter.

I mean, geez. Aren't there enough broken hearts in the world?

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