One of my best friends lost his dad this morning.
My heart was heavy with the news. Having lost my own dad, I know there are no magic words I could give him to make the pain go away. After several minutes on the phone, we were somehow able to conjure up some silly moments and have a couple of cathartic chuckles. But, for the most part, our voices were thick with grief, heavy with tears.
After we hung up the phone, promising to talk more tomorrow I headed into the kitchen. Along the way, I took a moment to light some candles in honor of Dale. I prepared a simple meal of pasta, bread and red wine.
Nothing special, but the common movements and surroundings gave my hands a purpose, and my mind gladly followed. The music playing through our speakers, Pearl Jam, U2, Ben Harper and others allowed me to dance, cry, scream and cleanse.
Grief is powerful, a circle of emotions which repeat and renounce themselves over and over again. The hardest thing about grief is riding it out. Just when you think you have it figured out, its rogue wave hits you from behind and under the surf you go.
My grandmother used to heal all wounds with food. I guess I get that from her. I remember her words…
“Are you hungry? Eat!”
“Are you sad? Eat!”
“Are you happy? Eat!”
And she would cook for me. While I sat at her tiny kitchen table, she would tell me a story, a song perhaps would pass between us, music playing in the background.
And I ate. And I was fed. And I was nourished. And then I could rest.
Love is bittersweet. It means we have experienced a love and connection so deep that when it is gone, we are forever changed. Sadness weighs deep. Our hearts bruised in a way we are certain we will never laugh again, unable to enjoy our day to day lives. A shift in the light, the balance disappears.
And perhaps that is true. But I know that at least for me, when I am in my kitchen, my Dad and my Grandma are usually close by, eager to see my latest endeavor, they lead me along.
Most often I am vaguely aware of their presence, too caught up am I in the present. They wait patiently in the background until the right moment comes, and then they are there to comfort me and make me aware.
And then we eat. And we are nourished. And we rest.