the idea of blogging about our journey has become a bit of a burden to me. i have been reflecting on that feeling and wondering if perhaps it has to do with my desire to paint an entire picture rather than simply one photo of the journey. portraying the big picture feels like stepping into a morass that i cant escape. its too much. and the more i try to say, the less i feel like i’m being true to what is actually our story. so here is a photo:
i don’t remember the last time i ‘cooked’ anything at all. yes, i serve food to the kids. much has been gifted to us, and a good deal that i’ve put on the table of my own effort has involved some form of bread and melted cheese. i’ve simply been loathe to cook these past few years. strange i know for those of you who know how much joy making food has given me over the past three decades. but its true that what used to be a great delight of mine has brought me nothing but heaviness and dread since i began to face the deaths of some of my hearts dearest.
but tonight i’m standing over a pot. i actually got out a knife and chopped some stuff up and threw it in to said pot. and its bringing up all kinds of thoughts and feelings. the one at the front of my mind is the fact that every time i began to chop things and throw them into a pot i was anticipating steve walking in the door from work. and i think i can say with absolute certainty that coming into a warm house, full of the smells of good food is a most comforting experience. it conveys without a word that someone is taking care to look after you.
you know i don’t think i ever gave much thought to it before but i’m thinking of it now. i used to cook for steve. cooking healthy food for kids, i think we’d all agree, is a thankless task and beats every one whose tried it into humility, frustration, rage, tears, apathy and a deep sense that no matter what you may have succeeded at in the past, you will fail at this. fail.
but cooking for steve was never a fail. it was always, always a win. i don’t think a meal has gone by that one of my kids hasn’t complained about. but i never, ever once heard steve complain about any food that i made. truly. not ever. and he ate lots. and he ate up all the leftovers that the kids refused to touch after they’d suffered through them the first time. again, all with never a complaint.
and as i’m sitting here typing and stirring my pot that my kids will freak out at, i can’t help but be overwhelmed with sadness that i took it all so for granted. years of taking this for granted. and it is only a testimony to my own sinful pride that there were days that not only did i take steve’s uncomplaining enjoyment of my food for granted, but i wanted him to tell me how good it was. it is only to my shame now as i remember.
there is also swirling around in my ocean of thoughts the fact that i no longer enjoy eating food the way i once did. i feel like solomon reflecting on the fact that he’d denied himself no pleasure and still was left empty. i’ve eaten all the good food. i’m still wanting. is it because i’m depressed? i don’t know. if i’m honest i would have to say that i feel this way about everything, not just food. nothing satisfies. nothing entices me (ok, not nothing. sleep and loosing myself in books and stories on tv still have a hold on me). nothing makes me feel like i have something to look forward to. i know that nothing will make me feel ok, least of all food and maybe that’s part of it.
yes, the thoughts just keep tumbling. staring at the onions and celery browning in the pot also remind me of my mother. i can just hear her voice telling me, with passion and conviction and even joy, that soup tastes way better if you saute your vegetables first. oh i miss her. i miss steve.
but. i daily look for God’s grace. and i see it. every single day. i have never looked, with eyes this wide open, for signs of God’s care for me and the kids and i’m finding reasons every day to marvel at His care. here is one example that has just occurred as i stand beside my pot and type. one of my children, the one least likely to praise my food (for those who know my kids well, you’ll know exactly which one i’m referring to), just walked into the kitchen and said, with a big grin, “yum! it smells so good!!!! can i look into the pot??? i’m going to eat ten octillion bowls of stew.” will wonders never cease!!!!!
here are a couple of other graces that have been on a grander scale over the past couple of months:
a large group of men from my church dedicated not one, but two saturdays to doing any and every thing i could possibly think of that might need doing this fall. from cleaning up my yard to washing windows, to fixing drywall, to cleaning toilets, to washing my van. the list went on and on and i marvelled at the literal number of ‘manpower’ hours i was gifted. can something be wonderful and terrible at the same time? i am finding that it can and these two days were exactly that: a most wonderful awe-inspiring gift, yet it was just so totally and completely horrifying that my house and yard were full of men and not one of them was my husband. it was another opportunity for me to weep and thank God simultaneously.
my auntie said it so well to me the other day. she said, “you can cry and cry and cry and yet still find that you are able to praise God as the tears fall.”
we celebrated nadia, simon and ezra’s birthdays this fall. although the anticipation of them, for me, was hard, the days themselves went marvellously well. all three children thoroughly enjoyed their special days. and again i was so thankful for the huge help from steve’s family.
now we are just on the cusp of advent, this time of year that has always brought such joy to my life and now feels like i must bear up and manage the season for the sake of the children’s joy. thank you for your prayers for us through this season that will feel most empty without steve.
and we are nearing the end of ‘the first year.’of course i’m finding almost daily that i reflect on, ‘this time last year.’ is it possible that we didn’t believe steve would die even as he was so very very sick through november and december? yes. i don’t think i really believed he would die until that first monday in riverview when the doctor suggested he put in a stomach pump. my reflections on that fact cause me to be so much more intentional about how i spend time with the children now. i don’t remember where i read it, but i recall reading that death teaches us what nothing else can. truly.
k. time to walk away from the words.
we love and appreciate you all so very much.