I am cooking tonight.
Cooking isn’t unusual for me – I try to cook dinner for my kids several nights each week, and we have our big family dinner every Sunday, so cooking is regular. But tonight, I’m cooking alone. Tori and Tess have things going that adult kids tend to have. Josiah is at church. I am alone. And I don’t mind being alone – in fact, after a busy, people-filled day, the introvert in me is happy to sink into an evening filled with solitude and good food.
But, the thing is, I can’t stop my mind from running ahead. It keeps racing out of the here-and-now, to a day not so far away, when this will be my normal. Tess gets married in January. Tori moves into her own place in February. Josiah goes to college in 2 & 1/2 years and is gone a whole lot even now.
I look at the six, fat bratwurst browning in the skillet and remember how my grandmother squirreled so many leftovers away in her fridge. She just couldn’t learn to cook for one and I’m not sure she ever really tried.
I try unsuccessfully to deflect the feelings I’m unprepared to process. I am fifteen years younger than my grandmother was when she was widowed. It seems I have a long road ahead, and that road is apparently filled with a lot of leftovers, which makes me wonder if I’ll hate being really and truly alone. Almost as soon as that thought bubbles up to the surface, my mind starts racing for solutions which include, but are not limited to: 1) Have friends over for dinner 2) Have homeless people over for dinner 3) Stop eating dinner.
But I love to cook. It’s therapy for me. And Steve loved to eat what I cooked. It was therapy for him. I would give about anything for the chance to keep making moussaka and curry and shepherd’s pie for that guy for the next thirty years. But plans change and people go and then we have decisions to make about why we do the things we do and what it would mean if we stopped.To stop cooking would be to hand more of my life over to the greedy abyss that is ALS and I just will not, cannot do it. It doesn’t get to win this one.
Dinner is ready. Sausage, maple glazed butternut squash, roasted broccoli, and way too much of it. But it is delicious and I feel warmed and fed in a world where so many will go to bed tonight alone and hungry. The minute I lose sight of that, I’ve become the very thing I swore I would never become (starts with a v and ends with ictum.) Again I’ll say: ALS doesn’t get to win this. It doesn’t get to slap labels on lapels. Not without a fight.
So, cook I shall. For many or for me. For life. For love. For Steve.
It’s just the right thing to do.