What a busy day. First the bank. Then Wal-Mart, followed by the grocery store. Before I knew it, we were ready for lunch. We ended up at my favorite spot, Chik Fil A. My husband always wonders what’s so great about Chik Fil A. Why do people love to go there? Why do I love to go there?
I love their spicy chicken sandwich.
Bustling and chatting greeted us at the door as we went to stand in line. Teenage girls on their phones. A mother chasing her toddler, his squeals of delight echo.Kids running around in the play area. Another mom yelling over a group of kids trying to get their orders placed. Rushing and quickness behind the counter. Orders come out like a well-oiled machine. Smooth.
The teenage girls burst out laughing, pausing from their phones. My attention is drawn to them as they quickly go back to scrolling through their social media feeds, ignoring the lady with them who scolds them for who knows what. My son sits in his chair, impatiently waiting for our food to be delivered.
That’s when I see it. A woman pushed inside the front doors in a wheel chair.
Her wrinkled hands and creased smile show her age. Her young son pushes her gently inside to the tables. He asked mom what she wanted and she smiled, saying “The usual. And if they can make it extra spicy, I’ll take it.”
And as I was sitting at the table with my son, opening his milk, tears started trickling down my cheek.
I couldn’t help but smile at the mother and son as they rolled past our table, nodding my head with a quiet hello.
I couldn’t help but let the quietest cry escape me.
Images of my mother played in my mind. Images of trips to the closest mall growing up where mom and I made our traditional stop at Chik Fil A.
Images of me pushing her inside the restaurant in her wheel chair, asking her what she’d want to eat.
Hearing her say a spicy chicken sandwich. Granted she would ask for something unusual, like no salt on the sandwich. Who asks for that at a fast food restaurant? I can see me rolling my eyes and shuffling to the counter with her odd request.
I remember when those moments used to embarrass me. That’s the thing about my mother. She wanted things the way she wanted them. One time she made me drive back to Dairy Queen because they didn’t give her extra fudge like she asked and she was going to make sure she got it. As we pulled back up to the window and they said they would charge us for extra fudge, mom just told them to keep her ice cream and we drove off.
I laugh out loud thinking about the times she asked for the manager while checking out at the grocery store, accusing them of “false advertising” on sale ads. My lips quiver with reminiscent sadness, hearing her ask managers for a discount on our meal since it took so long to deliver.
All these little moments threaded together, creating my teenage experience with my mother.
These threaded moments woven together, supporting me as the strong woman I am today.
Sometimes I see Grief as my enemy. Sometimes I see Grief as my challenger. But that day, I saw Grief as a sweet friend, reminding me that those moments with my mother are times I’ll have for the rest of my life.
For a brief moment, I was expecting my mom to come rollin’ through those doors asking for a spicy chicken sandwich. Then I looked down at my meal, and smiled, realizing.
I love their spicy chicken sandwiches. I love the feeling of a small, warm tradition that comes with a busy day and a stop at Chik Fil A. As if Mom and I had been shopping and needed our waffle fries.
When Grief comes in those moments and all of the sudden you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with emotion, bursting out of your very soul, forget about those around you. Explore those feelings and where they’re coming from.
Let Grief be a friend to you in that moment and laugh at the unexpected memory in an unexpected place with the reminder of the most familiar feelings you can feel.
As I let Grief pulse through my heart that day, quietly laughing at the memories I have stored away of my mother, I can’t help but find myself feeling pursued by my Father. My heavenly Father who knows every essence of my being and every fiber of my sorrow.
I feel him in that moment. Laughing and crying with me. I see Him nod with approval at Grief for the gentleness that came upon me that day as I allowed myself cry in Chik Fil A.