Oftentimes, those who are grieving, will comment that it's the things that are least expected that will catch you off guard. Basically, there is no way to be prepared for the things we don't expect, and that can be very hard.
I had an unexpected reaction to an unexpected moment the other day, and I happened to be at work when it hit. Meals are provided at my job, and the office staff gets to choose whether to eat from the dining room kitchen or from the snack bar at the pool. I, personally, don't mind either choice....in the dining room kitchen, I usually order a cold-cut sandwich, and at the snack bar, I usually order a grilled chicken sandwich. Both are tasty, and the decision is usually based on what time of day it is, more than what I'm in the mood for.
The other day, I decided on the grilled chicken sandwich, which meant trekking down to the pool to pick it up. I walked out the front door of the clubhouse (yes, I am lucky enough to work for a country club), and I headed down towards the pool. As I walked along the path to the pool, I noticed several men taking their last shots at the 18th hole, and quipping about their ability to finish well. One man in particular was upset about not birdie-ing twice in a row. It made me chuckle. As I looked ahead, I noticed two women with their little ones in the baby pool. I kept walking, but couldn't look away as I noticed that both 'babies' were wearing sun hats, and had sweet little chubby legs and bellies that reminded me so much of Catelyn.
I think I actually felt a piece of my heart shatter. I tried to shake it off, and went to grab my sandwich and head back to my desk. As I walked past the women and children in the baby pool, I made certain not to look back over. I searched for the golfers, but couldn't find them, so I focused on the parking lot I was heading towards. I told myself that it was completely okay to feel sad, but that this really wasn't a good time, so I needed to keep my chin up and let it pass, and all would be well. I got back to my desk, and I tried not to focus on missing Catelyn, and answered the phone as it began to ring. I noticed the lump in my throat and tried to stifle my sadness and sound cheerful as I responded to the call. As I hung up, I noticed the warm river streaming down my cheek, and reached up for a tissue just in time to be spotted by a co-worker who said, "are you crying?" I replied, "I'm trying not to". He asked "was it something I did?", and I said "no, it's personal, but I'll be okay". After that, I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I thought it was good, but I was wrong. As another co-worker approached, I stood up with tears in my eyes and said "I have to walk away for a moment" and rushed to the bathroom.
The nice thing about working for a country club is that they have actual fingertip towels in the bathroom, so I grabbed one, buried my face in it, locked myself in a stall, and proceeded to cry in a semi-muffled fashion.
I told Catelyn that I love her and miss her terribly, and that I'm glad that those babies reminded me so much of her, but that it really wasn't a good time for breaking down, and that I would be done for the day soon, and promised I would readdress my feelings as soon as I could.
With that, I wet my face with water from the sink, patted it dry (though rubbing at it couldn't have made it look any worse), and went back to work.
It's always those unexpected things that catch you off guard when you're grieving. But, in it's own way, for me, the unexpected events and reactions are good. They serve as a reminder that Catelyn mattered more than anyone - even I - will ever know. Honestly, I don't want to be able to guess what is in store for me. The moments that catch me off guard are more real and true than any moment that I try to prepare for, and there is something to be said for that, too.