Today I allowed myself an indulgence. I shop for new clothes maybe twice a year, max. Generally, my sisters and I swap items over little parties with friends, or I browse thrift shops. I try not to over-consume, although like most Americans, I still cross the line into some level of wastefulness and then feel guilty later.
Before a big vacation it is my ritual to pick up a few items, part of the anticipatory pleasure of travel. So, this morning, I headed off to Ross, my budget compromise to minimize at least the financial guilt of consumerism. After I carefully selected a couple items, including a swimsuit more characteristic of a 65 year-old woman, I headed for the dressing room.
As I squeezed into colorful Speedo spandex, I overheard a mother-daughter duo in the next stall.
“Oh my God.” Sheer horror in the daughter’s voice.
“So-and-so’s sister has cervical cancer.”
“How old is she?”
“Mid to late twenties.”
They were both silent in disbelief. I, too, stopped for a moment. We all know someone with cancer. We all know people hurting because of it. Just this morning I had a conversation with someone I care about who faces a monumental loss. Sadly, we live in a world where cancer is not rare.
As I stood suddenly aware of the trivial concerns that face all women during swimsuit shopping, I was struck by the desire to get home and tell my husband we need to take better care of ourselves, we need to enjoy each moment as much as we can. Funny how the words of strangers can be so jarring.
The truth, as we all know, is that life can end abruptly (or slowly) at any time. When we remember this, time spent with loved ones becomes much more meaningful and finding the perfect swimsuit matters a lot less. For the record, I went for the old-lady one-piece, granny chic is totally my style, big sunglasses, colorful tote, and most importantly, a whole lot of love.