Sunday, January 31, 2010


Black shoe polish, my post-it note read. I looked at it as I walked in the doors at Target, reciting it in a whisper as pondered what part of the store I'd find it in.

A smile like the sun interrupted my thoughts and the recollection of someone much taller than I was bobbing down into my field of vision came into play. "You must be Anna," he said, as we both reached out to shake hands and I read the name on his nameplate. "You're Eric," I said, smiling back. "I've heard a lot about you," he told me. "And I've heard a lot about you," I replied. "Only the bad stuff about me is true," I added. We both commented that it was nice to finally have a face to go with the name.

I wandered down past the makeup, finding myself in front of a shelf of brightly colored bowls, pausing to look at them, assessing their size and deciding that they were too small for my purposes. I turned towards the shoe department and went down an aisle about two steps before I was stopped by some lovely ivory cookware. Giada has a line of cookware in Target? I glanced over it and was scanning the shelf for mixing bowls when the voice in my head gently reminded me I was not going to find shoe polish in housewares.

I didn't hear the phone ring, but I heard my husband talking. I expectantly looked over, holding my breath, as he shook his head "no" and mouthed, "He didn't make it."

I put some cotton balls in my basket, and started heading for towards shoes. I stopped to look at the shirts in the men's department that were on sale, wondering if Nolan would wear the light blue one for his band audition the next day. Probably not, I thought, putting it back.

"Is this it?" the cashier said. "Yes," I answered, as I paid and left.

When I got to the van, a piece of paper fluttering down from the dash caught my eye. Black shoe polish, I read, as I sighed and headed back into the store.

Ordinarily, I find a lot of comfort in the mundane. I do the things I do for my family that keep them clothed and fed and supplied for their days, all the while feeling satisfied that the things I do are the family glue. I hope that they all go out into the world bearing the stamp of my love and are able to make it through the day gracefully because Mom remembered they needed new socks and put cookies in their lunches.

This day, looking for black shoe polish in Target, I am unable to find comfort in the mundane. This day, I am getting the things my husband needs so he can look his best out of respect for a fallen friend. The friend, Eric, who was such a joy to meet and whose smile could light up a stadium, was killed the other evening in the line of duty. He went to work. He made a traffic stop. He never made it back home. It is a horrible loss for the department and the community he served.

This day, while I am not taking comfort in the mundane, I am appreciating its subtle importance. Whether it's black shoe polish or the hugs we give each other as we head out the door, it's the glue that holds our lives together.

And hopefully, the glue that allows us to always come home.