We used to have a favorite Chinese restaurant, my husband and I. It was this little hole-in-the-wall type place across the street from our apartment. I don’t remember how my husband came across that place, but once he brought it home for dinner one night, it easily became our favorite.
I remember telling him to surprise me with something chicken, as I often had a hard time deciding what to order at new places, still an issue by the way. So he first brought home a plate called Princess Chicken. I teased him about the name. Chicken for his princess! It was delicious, simply fried chicken with a really sweet, yummy sauce.
There were times that we would walk across the street together. Times we would go and sit for a few minutes while we waited for our food. He’d have a beer, and we would just talk about our day. Times I would go to pick up food on my own and the usual waitress would ask how my husband was.
We became regulars.
After he died, there was no longer anyone to bring home Princess Chicken.
However, sometime later I decided to order food from that place and as I drove up to the door and got out, the sign read that it was closed on Mondays! It was Monday. They were closed. I cried. I cried so hard and called my mom to tell her that I couldn’t get Chinese food because they were closed for the day.
Nothing would do. I drove home upset and hungry.
Now, it sounds silly, I will admit, but that is grief. It makes silly things seem like really big things. It makes you cry over Chinese food.
A couple years went by, and I simply forgot about our Chinese food place. Then one night it randomly popped into my mind. I drove down the street we once lived on, kids in tow. I pulled into the parking lot and noticed there were no lights in the window.
They were closed.
I cried, but not out of frustration or hunger, but simply because that small part of our story was now gone. I cried tears of nostalgia. I would never be able to bring my kids there and have them taste the food their daddy ate. I won’t be able to tell that story over Princess Chicken.
Such a small thing, but still so meaningful.
That is grief.
As more time goes by, more pieces of our story fade away. Restaurants come and go around here. Streets get new sidewalks, places we’ve walked down that previously didn’t have sidewalks. Churches get remodeled, no longer looking like the place we’ve once stood in.
Everything slowly changes.
However, there’s one thing that will never change. My love for him. It neither grows nor fades. It never changes. My love for him is a constant that will always be. And for that I am grateful.
I am grateful that no matter the day or the place or the situation, I can tell our children that I loved their father and that he loved me.
Even though a part of me will forever wish that he was still around to bring home some chicken to his princess, me.