I started crying in the grocery store today. I didn’t let it get too far, but teared up in front of the canned fruit. After I went around the corner, I teared up again in front of the spices and then again in front of the olives. When I got to the canned vegetables, I told myself to stop thinking about her, at least until I got home.

I’m not very outgoing when shopping, but have made a connection with a few people at my local Publix. I started bagging groceries when I was 15 years old and like to practice my skills to this day. I felt awkward about letting anyone take my groceries out to the car, but more than a year ago made a commitment to say yes if anyone offered. I thought it would make accepting help easier if I started in my 50s and did not wait until I was 80.

After she had taken my groceries out to the car 3 or 4 times, she started coming to bag my groceries whenever she saw me. She loves animals and my wife is a veterinarian. I almost always have an animal story to tell.

I know lots of sad stories, but she told me firmly that she did not want to hear any sad stories. I don’t let my wife tell me many happy stories because happy stories don’t make me feel happy. However, I do let my wife tell me sad stories because I know she helps people face hard situations almost every day and she needs the support.

I can talk about my own dog or cats if I don’t know a happy story from the animal clinic, but several months ago, she told me it might be alright if I told her a sad story. She said she had to face sad stories because she knew her dog would not live forever. He was a black lab whose face had turned white in old age.

I can’t remember everything I told her, but I may have found a way to tell her that saying good-bye to a beloved pet in the doctor’s office can be a loving and peaceful experience even when it is very sad.

Today she found me in front of the canned fruit and told me that “it” had happened yesterday. She couldn’t say the words that her dog had died, but repeated that “it” had happened until my face acknowledged that I understood.

She did not come to bag my groceries when I got to the registers today. A young man took my groceries to the car and we talked about the weather. But I trust we will walk out to the car together again someday soon and she will tell me the sad story because we share things like that.