I love my local Ace Hardware store. Almost everyone who works there is so friendly, and helpful, and just a delight to interact with. One of the cashiers is a master of puns. I always try to get her line so we can banter back and forth as I’m checking out.
I needed a garden hose. I walked to the appropriate aisle, overwhelmed by the number of garden hoses available. I pulled out my phone, started scrolling through numbers, and then stopped.
Dad wouldn’t answer my call.
Almost every trip to Ace Hardware had also involved a call to Dad, my personal advisor on all things home fix-it. “If I’m cutting a decorative steel plank to cover the gap between the stove and the wall, what’s the best hacksaw to buy?” “There’s a mouse in the house – what extermination methods would you recommend?” “I’m painting my office – is it really necessary to prime the walls first?”
And he patiently walked me through each option, then gave me a recommendation. “Thanks, Dad! Your check’s in the mail!” I’d joke as we hung up.
I was staring at garden hoses. I had no idea which one to buy. I’ve never bought a garden hose before. Why were there so many options?
An Ace Hardware employee walked down the aisle. “Do you need help with anything?”
I took this as a sign my Dad had sent help. He couldn’t be there, but he could send a proxy. “I’m looking for a garden hose.” He didn’t even slow down. “They’re right there,” he said as he continued walking.
I stared at him in disbelief. Like I said, almost *all* employees are so friendly and so helpful, and go out of their way to walk you through options. Dad had not sent help. Or, if he had, he needed more practice.
An hour later, I had bought a garden hose, a nozzle, and a stand to wind the garden hose on for “convenient, easy storage.” Lies. I hooked the garden hose to the storage unit and started turning the handle, which was meant to easily wind the hose into a perfect coil. It simply knotted it up. After a half hour of struggling with the hose, I attached the nozzle and began watering the plants. Or, attempted to. Several of the connections were not tight enough and water sprayed everywhere – in my shoes, in my face, on my pants. I attempted to fix it without turning off the water. Turning the threads the wrong way, more water sprayed me. It was too much. What I once would have thought of as comical, laughing hysterically, I simply couldn’t take. I sat down on the edge of the raised garden bed that has housed nothing but weeds this year and just cried, as I became wetter and wetter.
Later, cried out and dried off, I attempted to read a few more pages in “How to Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies.” I came to a section on “The Work of Grief.”
However, grief is not commonly perceived as work. …Grief can deplete you to such an extent that the slightest tasks become monumental, and what previously was easily achievable now may seem insurmountable. page 16
I can’t even figure out how to use a garden hose. This is what grief looks like.