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The Can

Joined: 1/1/2013
Posts: 16
It was a can of the good stuff.

After a few hours sorting through donations in my community’s food shelf and finding a dishearteningly high number of expired products, that can of Enfamil lifted me up. It’s always exciting when someone donates baby formula –it’s something our clients need and we never have enough of. But snuggled near the bottom of a pile of canned tuna, macaroni and cheese and jalapeño Ramen noodles, this can seemed to be buried treasure. It was for babies whom even in the first weeks of life seem to be falling behind, fortified to the teeth for those who have already developed sensitivities to milk or gluten, or who aren’t gaining weight the way they should. It’s a way to help level the playing field –and for babies who are often born in the least ideal of family circumstances, every extra little bit helps. Unfortunately, that extra little bit is also very expensive –almost $40 a can. Our clients simply cannot afford to spend that much on only a week or two’s worth of formula, and I knew this donation would be a serious blessing for somebody’s little boy or girl.

But then I turned it over.

That can of wonderful baby formula had expired almost two years earlier.

Usually my time at the food shelf leaves me feeling optimistic about the world, that there is a duality at play: there are those who are suffering and in desperate need of help, but there are also those willing to devote their hours, days and lives ensuring that they get it. But this time, I couldn’t shake that can and the profound sense of loss it seemed to represent. I’m not sure why; I’m not a mother and I won’t be for a while, if I choose to be one at all. But something about that baby formula haunted me the rest of the day.

Two hours later, as I prepared to head home, I took that can and did what I knew I had to. The uplifting scenario I had fantasized of a struggling mother temporarily relieved was gone for good, replaced only by the definite and deadening thud of the Enfamil as it hit the bottom of the trash can.

It may have been the saddest sound I’ve ever heard.
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Comment by Girlboxer1970

Joined: 1/15/2013
Posts: 79
Exceptional writing. Engaging, emotionally evoking. Solid creative nonfiction example of essay writing. Perfect ending. Keep writing, you are talented!
Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 4:12:32 PM
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