To Begin Again

She sat silently with her hands on the steering wheel and her head leaning against the seat, staring aimlessly at the sun creeping over the edge of the vast, empty parking lot. It painted the horizon in a breathtaking array of purple and red and for a moment she felt the calm serenity of a brand new day. The only sound that she could hear was the steady vibration of her keys in the ignition. Eventually, she reached out and turned the car off, stashing the wad of keys into her jacket pocket. Emitting a great sigh, she pushed open the car door and stepped out into the cool morning breeze. She spotted an empty shopping cart beside her car and decided to grab on to it for support. She was feeling a bit shaky today.
Walking through the big double doors, she strolled past the senior greeter standing at the entrance. The old woman flashed a smile, which was unexpectedly missing a front tooth and offered a sale paper and a pleasant good morning. She nodded and kept walking past, ignoring the outstretched hand, holding the wrinkled newspaper. She was thankful to see the empty aisles since she was in no mood to deal with crazy coupon clippers or dawdling grandmothers. She rolled up and down the rows of colorful merchandise, pausing for a moment to investigate a rack of clothes marked Clearance. It filled her with great satisfaction to be able to buy “off the rack” once again. For far too long, she had been forced to shop at the Big and Tall stores where everything is stretchy and made out of hideous polyester and elastic materials. Sometimes, when frustrated at the limited selection, she had been daring and ordered things online. This would explain the spare room full of brand new clothes that were either too small or a little big but too much of a pain in the behind to return. Clothes really weren’t that important however, since her 400 pounds of miserable padding had all but confined her to her home in those days.
She snapped herself back to reality and began moving again, past the gleaming jewelry counters filled with cheap imitation chains and baubles and into the children’s clothing section. She reached out and touched the frilly, little dresses as she passed by and could not resist picking up a pint-sized pair of white, leather, tennis shoes, smiling as she placed them back upon the display, remembering that she had wanted children once. As a little girl she had imagined herself all grown up with a handsome, doting husband four darling children and a beautiful white French Poodle. She would dream of holidays spent round the dinner table preparing for a delightful feast as she placed the golden brown turkey in the center of the table. She had pictured herself sitting in front of a crackling fire holding her husband’s hand while the children laughed and squealed beneath a sparkling Christmas tree as they tore the wrapping paper off a huge pile of hand-picked presents. She had dreamt of birthdays, school days and holidays. Yes dreams can be wonderful, but life can be cruel.
She steered her cart quickly out of the baby section. Her heart had begun to hurt. In her mind she suddenly recalled the day Dr. Peterman had told her she was pregnant. She remembered the sheer joy that had enveloped her entire being. She raced home that afternoon to tell her husband and they laughed and then cried. They had celebrated at their favorite restaurant, splurging on steak and lobster and all was grand in their world. Ahhh, but life is unpredictable. One day you are pregnant and the next day you’re not. She had lost the baby. Joy turned to extreme, unbearable sadness and festered into unendurable anger which eventually plunged her into the depths of a deep, dark, depression.
Looking back, she could not remember much about those dark days. Life had become a ritual of sleeping and eating, and eating and eating even more. This caused her to balloon to a colossal 355 pounds with no end in sight. Abandoning her job, her friends and family, she isolated herself away, shutting out even her husband, who still loved her deeply. For months he was hurt, lost and lonely and then one day with no fanfare, he left. The next two years were spent floundering in self-pity and intense self-loathing.
Lost in thought, she turned a corner a crashed into a dog food display, sending cans of Alpo rolling through the aisles. Embarrassed, she bent down and began gathering the cans, just as a startled stock boy rushed to her rescue. Assuring her that he would clean up the mess, he sent her along in the hopes that she would fill up her cart and empty her wallet. Getting back into steering position she pointed her yet, empty basket towards the back of the store as her mind wandered back to where it had been before the Alpo incident.
A smile lit up her face as she remembered the day her long lost lover had so unexpectedly returned, pounding madly on the front door. When she pulled open the door in tears of extreme and utter happiness, he’d wrapped his arms around her tremendous girth, swearing that he’d never leave again, if only she’d promise to fight for her life and their love. That day had been the start of an incredibly long journey, three years in fact. Three very long years of struggling through, tears, sweat and counseling for her depression and addiction. Today, she was a brand new woman: happy, healthy and so very in love.
Glancing up, she saw the pharmacy sign, and then her eyes scanned the shelves beneath. Trembling, her hand reached for the inconspicuous little box. She grabbed the package, tossed it into the cart, turned around and grabbed a second, just to be sure. She did not really need the home pregnancy test. She already knew. She could feel the tiny soul growing inside of her and she knew that this was not just a baby she would give birth to, but a second chance at life as well.
She rolled her cart towards the cashiers at the front of the store, taking a slight detour along the way. Pulling up next to the tiny little tennis shoes she picked them up and set them gently in the cart and continued walking.