Wednesday, November 29, 2017

To the woman at the stationary store

Oma Regina and I circa 2014

*Kleenex warning....I'm looking at you mom...*

My task was simple. Get a Christmas card and a mailing envelope. I needed the mailing envelope and the card for the gift I am sending to my Oma. Seems like a simple enough task to accomplish on your lunch break.

Well it wasn't. 

Let me rewind for a moment.

This summer, while we were in Canada, we found out my Oma Regina was sick. Very sick. This is why a lot people didn't see us on our visit home. Actually scratch that this is why almost NO ONE saw us other than family and 1 of my friends saw us on our visit home. This is why I very quietly went to Edmonton without telling anyone (sorry Edmonton friends). This is why I haven't bothered blogging about our trip home. 

My Oma was diagnosed with very aggressive cancer and our trip home turned into my last opportunity to ever see my grandmother. So we drove from Mantioba to Alberta to see her one more time because I knew when I came home to Europe I would never see her in person again.

After that I spent most of the trip wanting to just curl up in a ball and cease to exist. At one point I was sitting on some stairs at my in-laws place with my head in my hands trying to get it together so I could just face people and my youngest niece found me. She was concerned. She wanted to know why I had been crying. I told her because my heart was sad and she said to me, "Auntie Tana, if you push me on the swing your heart will be happy again." She wasn't trying to be profound, she just wanted me to push her on the swing, but some how in her magical little brain she knew what I needed. 

The morning of my brother-in-laws wedding is when I found out her life expectancy. I spent most of their wedding day trying not just fall apart. I felt so bad when the first member of John's extended family, who I hadn't seen in over a year, asked me how I was when they arrived at the wedding and I burst into tears. Thanks for being such a trooper with that Teulon Auntie Pat. 

I was a hot mess the whole trip home. 

Since coming home it's essentially been a waiting game. I have a grandmother who is dying and I'm on a different continent. I've done this before. It's not fun. I don't recommend it. But it's a thing and I'm dealing with it the best I can.

Until yesterday.

I'm standing in the card aisle at the stationary store. Normally this is the most magical place in the world. I love the stationary store!! But yesterday I was getting frustrated. All the standard Christmas cards say "...und ein gutes rutsch in neues Jahr." (Translation: and a good slide into the new year.) I didn't want anything with any sort of reference to the new year. I just wanted a card that said Frohe Weihnachten or something Christmassy. No new year because I'm not ready to think about next year and what that means for my Oma. 

I was getting upset. My brain was swirling and my heart was hurting. This will be the last Christmas card I ever send her and I was just overwhelmed. To many feelings all at once with the importance of this card just weighing on my heart.

Then out of no where someone who knew what I needed helped me. 

A complete stranger saw my crappy attempt at hiding my tears and she helped me. She asked me what I was looking for and I explained. Scratch that, I unloaded, in German, on this poor woman. I felt stupid for being so upset but she just listened. Then she offered to help me. She didn't want me to do this alone because it's hard to do things like this alone. 

She went through the cards with me.

In the bottom row we found a card with the lyrics to Leise rieselt der Schnee (Translation: Quietly the snow falls) which is a popular Christmas song in my family (particularly the Boney M version). 

She knew what I needed. This complete stranger knew I needed help. 

She wished me ein frohes fest and went about her shopping and I stood there feeling a little better. 

Like my niece, that woman she just knew. 

I tried to explain this all to John last night. But my tears go in the way. 

I was thankful for this stranger. I was sad this is it for Christmas cards for my Oma. I was all the feels, I still am and probably will be for a while. But I'll deal with it as it comes.

But honestly, to the lady in the stationary store, thank you.



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