Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sometimes Coffee and Bagels Are More Than Just Breakfast

Today Brit and I went to Walmart to pick up some stuff we seem to run out of daily here. Bread, milk, know the stuff.
I am going to be honest here. Brit isn't my first choice to run errands with when I'm trying to be efficient. She has much slower...well, everything. I tend to cruise Walmart at high speed, most likely in a subconscious effort to get the Hell out of there. With Brit, I am always checking over my shoulder to see where she is and make sure she hasn't been distracted and redirected as a result.
Today wasn't any different, and she did indeed get distracted. While I was getting the 3 gallons of milk that will no doubt be gone by tomorrow afternoon, she happened to notice the single serving sized little jugs of flavored milks. She lingered and I noticed - and when she noticed I had noticed, she made comment about the little jugs of coffee milk . I nodded, and got back to shopping, more than a little distracted myself now. I didn't want to be there anymore - I wanted to get back to being lost in thought about grabbing butter and eggs, before I thought too long on the Coffee Milk.

I can't look at one of those syrupy little containers of goodness without thinking of my stepmom. Coffee milk is one of those little things she used to do for me. Make me what was basically a cup of warm milk with a splash of coffee and sugar in it when I was young, to include me in her ritual. She did on occasion buy me a little jug of it as well. To be honest, simply thinking the words "Coffee Milk" brings tears to my eyes. It's just one of those things, you know?

Well today, as I am trying to escape the dairy section before I lose it, a small voice behind me says "I used to like coffee milk. Nana would buy it for me at Cumbies."

I think my heart broke on a new level at those words.Of course, I turned back around, climbed half way into the cooler to grab the last quasi-reachable mini jug of coffee milk from the shelf - and handed it to Brit.

See, my younger kids don't remember Nana from when she was well. They remember an older, less steady, forgetful, struggling Nana that was sometimes awkward to be around. Kaylee, my 18 year old remembers the real Nana well. She is just as devastated as I am at her loss. Brittany - well, she is ill. She has issues with memory, among other things. She rarely shows appropriate emotion. I have seen little glimmers of sadness here and there from her about the loss of Nana...but not what I would have expected form her if she had stayed well.When my older kids were younger, Nana was a HUGE part of their lives. She may have lived 300 miles away, but she missed nothing. They were spoiled by her and my sister in more ways than one. Gifts galore, yes - but more importantly, she was Nana. They knew she was one of the top people on the "Let's think about who loves us" pyramid.

Today let me know that Brit remembers Nana. Nana is still in her heart and mind. She shares my pain at her loss. It reminded me that while I am wallowing away in this self pity and enormous pain, my girls are missing their Nana and feeling the pain, too. It also served to remind me that my little ones aren't going to have these memories with Nana....and that hurts more than I can say.

When we all started getting sick last week and the toddlers were cranky, I made them tea. Apple Cinnamon Celestial Seasonings, served in a sippy cup with a little sugar and lots of milk. I had no clue why I did it - but it made me happy and it made them happy.I did think of my coffee milk when I suggested it. The same way I think of Nana when I offer the kids gingerale when they are sick - because Nana used to offer it to me. The dark gingerale, as a matter of fact.

It makes me happy to realize that I am just doing things for the kids that she used to do for us, without even realizing it, most of the time. Offering the same comfort I was given - and that still fills my heart with love today. It also makes me profoundly sad that she isn't here - there's no Nana to take care of me anymore. Instead, I am the one doing the Nana stuff. When did I become qualified for such a responsibility? What if I mess this up?My stepmom was - is - a larger than life image in my mind and heart. She is the shoes I could never possibly hope to fill.

My stepmom and I at her babyshower

I really just want a mug of homemade coffee milk and a few Munchkins or bagels - and to be sitting across the table from her again. I think next week when I go grocery shopping,I need to have a Nana tea party with my girls. Coffee Milk and Everything bagels.

All that will be missing is the guest of honor ... and a little piece of my heart.

One of my favorites of my stepmom and sister
Nana and my girls, in the days of Coffee Milk <3

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