Good food, good times, and good grief
If you recall from the previous entry, I spoke about the desire to cook more. I wasted no time in making this happen. This past Sunday, May 15, 2022, I made lasagna for dinner. I did not do a traditional lasagna, and to be honest, most of what I make as typical dishes are “spruced up” a bit to reflect my tastes and what I enjoy eating. I had your usual game players in the mix, though; ricotta cheese, lasagna noodles, and tomato sauce. I opted for ground turkey as opposed to ground beef, and I also added steamed spinach with fresh garlic, and a cheese blend (complete with cheddar, Colby-jack cheese, and mozzarella.
I steamed zucchini and squash, keeping the seasonings simple for the two; pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. As I prepared my dinner, I could feel the rhythm coming back to me — I was in extreme focus mode, and everything felt right. There was a connection I cannot quite explain. It was as if I was moving from the overwhelming phases of the previous week and leaning into what felt as if it would be a wonderful beginning to another. I offered a few words here and there to my dog as I paraded around in my kitchen doing what I enjoyed and missed most.
I was so happy with the results of the overall meal; I wanted to call my cousin and tell her. And that’s when it hit me . . . again. I could not call her. I could not share this moment with her, and I moved through the temporary sadness of it — knowing I could send up a prayer for grace, patience, and the ability to understand life’s finalities. I smiled, nodded, and said to myself, “She knows. She knows.”
Good grief, and the transition.
As I reflect on what took place, I am inclined to believe this was — all of this could be, the “Good Grief” stage.
Good grief is described by Cam Taylor as:
Traveling through the grief cycle without getting stuck or stalled.
Embracing the messiness and range of emotions during loss and recovery.
Leaning into the pain of loss and learning more about yourself and others.
The above is a part of “the journey we take as we work through the emotions associated with loss and sorrow”, which is “the grief cycle.” What I was experiencing as I realized I could not call my cousin to boast about my meal without completely and totally breaking down was good grief. The reality of it was facing me. I accepted it. I embraced it. Finally, I moved on from it.
Of course, I could not hear the joyous laughter on the other end of the phone as I raved about a meal I had never prepared that came out perfectly, but I remembered the times upon recollection when I could hear her voice — when I could talk to her about such things. It was a peaceful moment, kissed by subtle sadness, but peaceful.
Good food and what it has done for me.
I will rewind and share what I made for lunch on the same day as mentioned above. I knew I wanted a salad, and not just any salad — a salad similar to one I would normally order from a favorite local spot. I purchased the ingredients earlier that morning and began preparation for it around 12:30 p.m. I bought thinly sliced chicken breasts, 1 sweet onion, Green Oak living lettuce, 2 cucumbers, and ranch dressing. At home, I already had shredded cheese, apricots, and spinach.
I used my air fryer to cook the chicken; which I seasoned lightly with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cajun seasoning, and fresh garlic. Once the chicken was nearly done, I began chopping up my vegetables and fruit. I was listening to the birds sing as they do around that hour of the day, and I had been in a delightful mood. Shortly after I was done with the vegetables, a close friend of mine called, and we talked until the chicken finished cooking.
I explained to her I was making myself a salad to which she expressed how much she loves salads, too. Next time she comes up, I will make one for her. I sent the photos above to her with a couple of others after we finished the call so she could see what I’d prepared for my lunch. It felt good to share something that was bringing me bits of joy — especially with this friend because she has known loss incredibly detrimental to her spirit more than once. I lean on her for an understanding of it all, sometimes. She knows the heavy weight this type of pain produces.
I did not think jumping into cooking or preparing good food again could inspire, move, shape, and encourage me. But it has. I will take all that it brings.
Good times, happy moments, and the gift of family.
Today, I went to visit a few of my cousins. I am blessed to have some family nearby, especially little ones. My youngest cousins in my area are ages four and six. The two of them are bundles of laughter, joy, energy, and come fully loaded with tons of questions. Entertaining is an understatement for these two. Whenever I am sad, a quick trip to be around my family and the little ones lifts my spirits. I do not take these hours of happiness for granted. They have been exactly what I have needed of late.
My best friend has also kept my incoming messages on the up and up with photographs and videos of her new puppy. It does my heart good to see this sweet, four-legged “Lil Miss Busy Body” pop up throughout the week at moments when I could use a pick-me-up. I have filled each day this past week with seconds, minutes, and hours of things to keep my mind steady and my heart from breaking.
I have gathered each event and logged them neatly into my memory bank. I will have each one as a reminder for retrieval when the roughness of the waters creeps up again. They will have no welcome mat at my shore.
This afternoon’s quote applies to today’s entry:
You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.¨ — Desmond Tutu
Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.
See you next Saturday.
©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally shared via The Grieving Room newsletter via LinkedIn.