Today didn't start very good and got a whole lot worse before it got better...
Son number 1 got cross because I said I probably wouldn't pick him up and he'd have to get the bus back from school. There was some teenage grunting. I told him I was doing my best and just before he left I said "I love you". There was an apology and hug before he went. Tick the box that says I'm doing OK!
Then number 2, who leaves for school fractionally later, started with his usual routine of "no one likes me", as I tried to fasten his coat properly to keep out the cold . Already feeling fragile I burst into tears. He can't cope with the emotion and is dealing with things by shutting them out. So he picked up his school bag and slammed the front door. He can walk to school by himself, he is nearly 11, but since "everything" happened I've been taking him, glad of the walk especially in the snow.
I dried my eyes, scraped snow and ice off the car and carried on with plan of the day - food shopping. Armed with my mother-in-laws list too.
Now I may be a little strange but I usually smile at people in the supermarket, especially at Christmas when everyone is getting stressed. I suppose I'm fortunate that I have enough time in my day to be polite. I don't push past anyone but say "excuse me", I'll reach up on high shelves for little old ladies and pass the time of day with people I don't know. Today I was even singing to myself whatever Christmas song they were playing over the tannoy. Yes I really am weird but I was glad of the normality of a supermarket shop as I spun around between the biscuit and the cereal aisles!
I chose a checkout with a reasonable queue and recognised the lady at the checkout as someone my mother-in-law knew vaguely. She started packing my mother-in-laws shopping which was fine, by the time mine went through I'd be ready with my own bags to pack my own - having worked in a shop I am a bit of a stickler for how I pack my shopping, keeping stuff together in an orderly fashion.
I was managing well until it was time to pay. I put in my card and pressed the pin number. Pin OK, so I carried on packing.
"Your card has not gone through."
Now I had this problem yesterday in another shop but when I tried it somewhere else there was no problem. I know I'm on borrowed time with the card, it's in Andrew's name although I am a second card holder. The bank said I was OK to use it for now, but surely they'd let me know if it had been stopped? Only with all this snow it's been hit and miss if we get any post - the Royal Mail must have a stack of stuff with my name on!
I found another card which worked fine but obviously by then my reputation wasn't as good and the shop was busy - time to get rid of this customer! The checkout woman started hurrying me along, there was still quite a bit to pack.
"Can't I have a few minutes to pack!" I pleaded, voice at a reasonable level. Or maybe it wasn't, I finally snapped and threw what was left in my trolley, eager to be gone.
"Uh oh!" commented a male customer under his breath, "Mad woman alert!"
That was the final straw. I spun round and faced him, finger pointing.
"Mad woman who's just lost her husband!"
Yes my voice was raised. And people stopped and stared. And I don't feel a bit sorry for my actions. I shall still go back and shop there head held high...probably!
What got to me was that no one offered assistance or asked if I was alright. I just pushed my trolley out of the shop and no one cared.
When I'd loaded up the car I went to take my trolley back. There was another car waiting for my space.
"I'm now leaving." I called, polite head back on.
The man stuck his head out of the window and offered me a pound for the trolley too so I didn't have to take it all the way back. He was patient as he waited for me to vacate my space. I didn't feel flustered like I so often do in these situations - God had sent an angel to restore my faith in human nature!
Fourteen years ago today I also did a lot of shouting and crying as I found myself in another situation that I didn't know how to handle. That day Andrew held my hand and helped me through the pain. It was the day our first son was born. That day we were surrounded by love and care. All the photos are of happy smiling faces. Andrew so proud of me and our new addition.
Fortunately today improved as I surrounded myself once again with the love and care of friends and family.
It hasn't been an easy day...
...but sometimes it just takes a stranger to be kind to lift your spirits.