Life from Sustenance
There is nothing more non-negotiable than death
There are other things non-negotiable in life
Life comes with needs that death absolves
Life requires food, water, air, and shelter
Shelter in the embrace of mother’s arms
Shelter in the embrace of the kitchen
Kitchen the place where I tend to needs
Kitchen the place where I nourish our souls
Souls grieving and hungry for sustenance
Souls healing as bodies are fed
Fed food that is created with love
Fed by my efforts to learn something new
New skills practiced as I prepare each dish
New repertoire growing as I learn
Learn to accept the challenges
Learn to consider everyone’s tastes
Tastes and nutrition blending together
Tastes changing as teens grow
Grow into acceptance of what we’ve lost
Grow into new ways of doing and being
Being more helpful than they once were
Being patient with my mistakes
Mistakes are part of the trial and error
Mistakes can be a path to wisdom
Wisdom gained with each meal served
Wisdom seasoned with reality
Reality that I’m their only parent
Reality that it’s now all up to me
Me the mother who married a chef
Me the one who hadn’t cooked
Cooked only begrudgingly
Cooked things no one wanted to try
Try now to overcome the aversion
Try to create culinary excitement
Excitement at every success
Excitement at my new competence
Competence breeds confidence
Competence becomes independence
Independence is a kind of balm
Independence is another kind of food
Food for bodies and food for souls
Food that sustains me as I become
Become the mistress of the kitchen
Become comfortable in this new life
Life goes on even after his death
Life goes on and needs sustenance
Sustenance for our bodies and souls
Sustenance and delight nourished
It’s been three months today since Jim died, and I became the sole provider for my children Cooking wasn’t something I did; Jim was a talented professional chef even when we met, and, though I had enjoyed cooking when I was single, I knew when I was outclassed.
From early ages, the kids knew it too. As an eight-year-old, Jeremiah once joked, “Mom, if I want you to make me scrambled eggs, I’ll ask you for an omelette.”
So, while Jim was alive, he did the bulk of the shopping and cooking.
Obviously, that’s changed.
I bought an Instant Pot shortly after his diagnosis, it’s been my salvation. I don’t enjoy “babysitting” food while it cooks, and I’m not especially good at it. I tend to get busy with writing or cleaning or reading or being with the kids or breathing….and things go wrong. With the Instant Pot, things take far less time, and, because it’s programmable, I can do other things while it cooks, like raking the yard, taking a shower, or writing blog posts.
I’ve used it for things I might not have made otherwise: steel cut oatmeal, sweet potato and butternut squash soup, whole roast chickens – and even bone broth!
It’s given me a new sense of competence, and, because it is so versatile, I’m buying ingredients rather than the prepackaged meal options I might otherwise have resorted to. That’s better for the budget, and our health…and every new dish (even the disappointingly oversteamed asparagus) builds my knowledge base and my certainty that I can indeed feed us.
That’s it for me…later on, I’ll be making soup from my own stock, and roasting yet another chicken. Yum!