Yesterday, I took Wil and a friend of his to lunch. Generally, when Wil and this friend, Timmy, make plans, the plans are 99% Wil's plans, and Timmy has to go along for the ride. This time, however, Wil made a stab at being considerate, and suggested we go to New Seasons, and eat outside on the roof, because Timmy had been suggesting that for quite some time.
New Seasons, for those who don't know, is a high-end grocery store, that happens to have a roof top dining option. While it's been in our neighborhood for almost a year, and I've been there many times, I had not attempted to figure out how the whole buying-your-food-downstairs-and-taking-it-to-the-roof thing, worked.
To say Wil is neither an adventuresome, nor healthy eater, is an understatement. I didn't know what we'd find there that he would actually eat. Timmy and I settled on build-your-own burritos, and I talked the man behind the counter, into selling us a plain ol' bowl of shredded, seasoned chicken, for Wil to eat. "Taco," as Wil for years has called such meat, was going to be just the ticket. This was going to be the day I high-fived the Universe and reveled in our success at branching out, trying new things, doing something fun and different.
I had hoped to time our trip to New Seasons to avoid the noon-hour rush, but circumstances had us arriving there at exactly that time. "Circumstances," being Wil's random, but hard fast rule that we'd leave the house at 11:51. When we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't crowded at all. Then, I remembered seeing all the school buses and back-to-school hubbub in the morning: Portland Public Schools had started up again.
We got our trays, paid for our stuff, hiked up two flights of stairs, found a great table with a view of the area below, and enjoyed the perfect weather.
For about 2.5 minutes.
In his perfect bowl of organic, cage-free shredded chicken, Wil found a tiny bone.
That was it. He wasn't eating another bite. No amount of combing through the rest of the bowl to prove there were no more bones, that that was not going to happen again, that it wasn't normal to find bones, and was just a fluke, would convince him.
My bliss was broken. I then became aware that the only other people up on the roof, were moms with toddlers. The table next to us had two women with strollers, their toddlers happily eating all the healthy food they put in front of them, while the women discussed the preschool options in the area. I couldn't help but over-hear. I couldn't help but be wistful. I couldn't help but see that at times, it feels like we're going backwards.
If not backwards, not forward. Maybe more of a "Groundhog Day," type thing. Stuck. Time marches on around us, and we stay in the same place.
There is evidence all around us, to the contrary. I know that. You don't need to reassure me of that or remind me of "how far we've come." For sure, we have. Big time.
But the grief/acceptance cycle isn't predictable or linear. Chicken bones can get stuck in more than your throat.
They can stick in your heart.