Thoughts by Richard Bleil
A friend of mine texted me today of a certain megalopostore. I would mention the name but they’re already too known by too many people and the owners have too much money by exploiting too many people, but you know it. Heck, by now you probably know which one. Anyway, ‘tis the season for too long lines and waiting too long for too…well, you get it.
These stores generally have pretty good prices because, frankly, the employees never get any of it. On any given item, you can probably find a better price if you’re willing to put in the time and miles searching. But, let’s be fair, if you are buying a lot of different things, chances are you’ll get a good price on the collection.
But there is another price.
In 2010, I suffered the first of two heart attacks. The first one went untreated. It occurred shortly after my wife had told me that she wanted a divorce, and frankly, I didn’t care if I lived or died. Circumstances made it, oh, let’s say “uncomfortable” for me to leave for about two weeks, so we decided to stay together for that long, and I promised that if she still wanted me gone after that period that I would leave. I spent the week suffering from severe pain in my upper torso and feeling the urge to throw up if I moved at all and listening to my so-called “beloved” wife claim that I was being a drama queen.
Several months later, while being treated for my second heart attack, I was so happy when they confirmed that scar tissue proved I had had a serious heart attack previously. I know, odd thing to be happy about. Ironically, I was being treated for that heart attack, unbeknownst to me, in the same hospital and at the same time that my still married but separated wife was being treated for substance abuse. Oh, how I wish I knew. I would have hauled my dying butt out of the bed to go and rub her face in it right then and there.
Pride is an odd thing. And that’s the point of this post.
See, two weeks later, she took the boys to their father’s place for his “long weekend” with them. I was feeling better at that point, and when she left, I sat on a stool at the kitchen island to wait for her. She walked in, looked at me, and said in the warmest voice I can recall her ever using with me as she said, “what are you still doing here?”
I had a place to go. I still owned a house (well, I was paying off a mortgage on it, but still…) not too far away. It was a wreck. It should have been condemned decades ago, and two years of having nobody living there certainly didn’t help. It had no heat, no furniture and no hot water, but it had electricity. I purchased a used mattress at a secondhand store which my dog and I shared for warmth through the winter months.
I lost everything. I had given my life savings (and even my retirement savings) to my so-called beloved wife to purchase a house for her and the boys, a house I thought I would be living in as well. I couldn’t even afford to eat on a regular basis. I made sure my dog had sufficient food and water, but I was eating once every few days, and my “meals” were typically canned meat products that had expired several years earlier but I was keeping not as a food source, but for sentimental or humor reasons.
But the real emotional trauma were the supplies. See, I had no household amenities, and found myself in need of basic household items that my so-called beloved wife had seen fit to dispose of rather than just leave it alone stored in my old run-down house for when she decided to leave me. Not that I’m better.
I had no money, but just enough credit to my name to take a trip to the megalopostore. I walked through the store, filling my shopping cart with the cheapest pots I could find, the cheapest silverware, the cheapest plates, the cheapest towels, the cheapest soap, the cheapest lamp…I’m guessing that you are seeing a pattern by now. Every step that I took was a blow to my ego, every item I selected was additional item to my growing shame.
I cannot express how lonely this walk through the store was. I remember thinking about how anybody could look into my cart, and they would know. Everything I grabbed made me think of her. I thought about the good times we had, and that they would never return. I thought of the cheese steak sandwiches I made for her that she loved, and the showers that we took together. I thought about her laughing at me as I was helping her fold laundry and folded her underwear which she insisted she never folded herself. I thought that it was gone. All of it. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in health and in sickness it was gone until death.
I wanted to cry. Every step became more challenging for me to bury my feelings so I wouldn’t break out in tears and humiliate myself in front of a bunch of strangers that I would never see again. There have been many times that I’ve cried over my failed marriage, and my lost wife, but I think that might have been the most difficult. Maybe because the loss was still fresh, or maybe it was the constant reminders of the distasteful task I was undertaking, but I never thought I could feel so alone as I did in that store.
I wouldn’t even wish that on my ex-wife.