I woke up this morning as if from a dream. Things looked the same, on the surface, but it was as if they had been tampered with, moved around, and then put back in place. It has been two weeks since my dad's death and nothing feels the same, so I went to the grocery store. The grocery store has always been my oasis - my place of zen. The grocery store is routine. It's "normal," awash in harsh florescent light, wide aisles, and that punch of fresh-fruit funk as the automatic doors slide open ushering you inside.
I strolled around, listless, starting in HBA (that's health and beauty aids for the unschooled:), and after sizing up the season's newest hand soap scents, I made for the frozen food cases and that most comforting of comfort foods, a Sara Lee Butter Pound Cake. I've been a Sara Lee Butter Pound Cake aficionado for decades, starting in elementary school when Mom would buy one for the holiday dessert. The buttery goodness started with that top layer of shiny crust, once you uncrimped the foil, pulling back the cardboard paper, and then the protective rectangle of wax paper. The actual interior of the cake was OK - a bit dry - but it was really the handmaiden to that top crust. And while the top crust was the main attraction, it had a very attractive co-star in what I can only describe as the dense, buttery residue left at the bottom of the Sara Lee Butter Pound Cake tin. These weren't your ordinary cake crumbs - no, these had been molded into a wondrous lining and it could only be removed by spoon (or knife, but this always managed to destroy the tin).
I took my pound cake home and began my ritual today, only, something was off, way off. I uncrimped the foil and began pulling up the cardboard cover, but there was a problem. My top layer of shiny cake crust was gone. The super-dense, dry cake interior that had given me so much comfort during college finals, grad school break-ups, and wedding-planning anxiety, had been replaced by a spongy, springy mess. I spat it out and looked dejectedly at the box, wondering how I had been betrayed by such an old friend as Sara Lee. My cake looked the same but it was strange and different, and all without my knowledge or consent.
I was angry! Yes, over a piece of cake, but so much more. Dad's death has been the death of the life I knew - the life where I have two parents, alive, and just a phone call/text message/email/car ride away, and the comfort that provided to me. And while my life may look the same on the surface, right now, at the core of me, there is heartache and grief.
And while you could say that it's just a piece of cake and not the end of the world, it IS an end.