Misleading Mirrors

I do not like to shop. From what others tell me, I am a rare woman because I do not like to shop. My husband loved to shop. I also heard from others he was every woman’s dream as men do not like to shop. My thoughts on men and women shopping is that some like to, others do not. It does not matter if they are a man or woman.

After my husband was ill for a while, I had to shop. He was the one that did most of the shopping before. Now I had to struggle through this overwhelming chore. That might sound odd to someone who likes to shop, but it is how I feel. As I started shopping more, I found ways to shop less. I would buy for a week or two of food instead of for a few days. If either of us needed clothing or essentials, I bought enough to last a while so I would not have to go back to the store. Each time I had to shop, while in the store I would try to figure out how to spend less time shopping.

This is where misleading mirrors comes into play. With my husband in the hospital so often for long periods of time, with my sleeping in the chair to be near him, my ability to be able to find time to shop became less. But the longer he was in the hospital, my need for clothing started to increase. While before I might buy something that looked as though it would look nice on, bring it home, try it on and ask my husband how it looked. My husband had always been my mirror of truth, he would tell me if it looked good on, which was usually the case. He would also tell me if something did not look nice, explaining what he did not like. Then I would look in the mirror and see he was correct, which he was and I would return the item. The returning part was difficult as that meant another trip to the store, so many things were given away to friends, family, Goodwill, rather than returned.

Since I was spending so much time at the hospital, my husband as a mirror not on hand, I started going through the torture of trying clothes on so I would not end up with clothing that did not fit, were uncomfortable or did not look nice. I was not tying to look great, rather look okay and the clothes be comfortable. After all, I would be sleeping in the clothes many times. Most people in the hospital, by that I mean family members and frequent visitors do not look great, tiredness and worry start taking their toll, so many of us probably did not look at others or care what we looked like to others. The visitors that come once a week, mainly on Sundays, are usually the ones that look nice. They have time to look nice, after all, they are only coming once a week. They were the ones that sometimes looked at all of us who were there daily with our loved ones as though we needed a make over or something.

After my initial trip to the clothing store when I needed some clothes, while in the dressing room, the mirror reflected a nice image. I went back and bought every color or pattern of whatever I had just tried on. This would avoid another trip to the store and I would look nice, I thought. But the mirrors in dressing rooms do not reflect our image as it is. Many complain of this. How after buying something that looked so good in the dressing room looked terrible in person. I was just learning this. My husband was still pretty much aware of things and was still my mirror and when I arrived back at the hospital, he would point out that many things I had bought did not look that good on me, that they did not reflect who I was. I did not return the clothing this time around, nor did I give the clothing away. This time I felt, the clothes were comfortable, I wanted them to look nice, but no longer cared as much so they would have to do. I had no time to return them.

The first time it happened where I, myself realized something did not look good was at the hospital. My husband was having difficulty seeing as well as he normally did and had told me so a week or two before. I had tried a top on in the store and it looked so good and was so comfortable I bought every color they had. When I returned to the hospital I caught a glimpse of a woman in the mirrors on the hallway walls. This woman was in ugly clothing, she looked old and tired, slumped over and in clothes that did not fit well. As I walked I noticed this woman was walking at the same pace I was from the reflection. When I got to the end of the hallway and stopped, so did the reflection. It was then I realized the person in the reflection was me. It was quite a shock. Not a pleasant one. Though later others told me they liked the top on me, I could not get that reflection out of my mind. Was I the person I saw? Or was it just a misleading mirror?

Hospitals can be cruel with reflections. Not necessarily for the ill, but the loved ones sitting with them. My husband was always in a single room, but then I think all the rooms at this university hospital only had one bed per room which was nice, no strangers to look at me if I looked bad. While my husband’s room only had a few mirrors, when walking down the hallway the walls were so shiny, you could see your reflection. The elevators had mirrors, some hallways had windows which reflected. When you have spent a night or two sleeping in a chair, no matter what you are wearing, chances are you will not look your best. I tried to avoid glancing at anything that could reflect, but it is hard not to catch glimpses of yourself with so many reflective objects around. Before leaving the floor my husband was on, whether to go to the cafeteria or go home for a night, I would glance in the mirror to make sure my hair was combed. I cannot say I glanced to be sure I looked okay, as that would not be possible. I learned to accept that my looks were of no importance, only being with my husband was.

I am glad that I do not like to shop. I am glad I do not really care what people thought I looked like. I might not be so happy that I did not look my best, but I am glad I did not waste precious time to shop for the perfect clothes. Had I wasted my time trying to look perfect, I would have wasted the most important thing of all. Being able to spend as much time with the man I loved before the sickness got worse and eventually led to his death. I would have missed out on a lot of laughs we had, some of my choice in clothes included.