Arrived at Airvault yesterday evening after a long drive from Le Havre. This afternoon I dropped my daughter Georgie at the station so she could catch a train to Paris for the weekend and then called in to the local Intermarché to stock up for the first week of campismo en France. I blundered around the over-stocked aisles until I came to the fruit and vegetables.
Suddenly I remembered how excited Chris would be at the abundance of fresh food in French supermarkets and instinctively reached for my iPhone to take a picture – as she would have done – of a display of enormous “coeur de boeuf” tomatoes. Local markets and village shops were her providers of choice, but she’d make an exception for a good Intermarché.
And then it hit me: I was there alone. Everything – shopping, camping, life itself –was an adventure with Chris. Her curiosity and delight in the world were contagious. I carried on as best as I could: wine, apricots, cuisses de poulet, ham, cheese, croissants. The trolley got filled but I felt more and more empty. I was so distracted that I dropped a jar of olives. It smashed on the floor and I went to find an assistant to clear it up.
“Pardon. Un petit accident. Je suis desolé.”
Sorry. I rolled the final phrase around in my mind and I thought, that’s exactly how I feel. I’m not just sorry Chris isn’t here, I’m desolated: abandoned, thoroughly alone.
Feeling quite miserable, I went out to the car park to load the camper van. Teddy pounced on me – as he always does –with unconditional delight. He wagged his tail and buried his face in mine.
“Of course you’re not alone,” he seemed to say, “I’m here.”
Merci beaucoup, Ted.