Knock

My friend’s mother was dying in her living room. I knew that but I didn’t.

She’d told me her mother was terminally ill but it never really sank in. Oh, that’s why you brought her across the country and set up a hospital bed in your living room. I get it now.

My friend told me this on a long walk with our dogs. No one asks how I am doing, she said. No one visits. No one ever brings food for us.

So that night I made a pot roast with potatoes and carrots and onions and I took it to my friend’s door. You’re the only person who brought us dinner, she said A few days later, her mother died.

At work, a colleague’s wife faced a new wave of cancer. He sat in my office and complained that every night they went out to dinner. It was expensive and exhausting, he said. So I made roast chicken and potatoes and brought it to their house, the roasting pan covered in layers of tin foil. I had to wear oven mitts to bring it from my car.

He brought the pan back to me a few days later, scrubbed clean. In the intervening days, I’d worried that my roast chicken and potatoes had been found wanting. I imagined that they’d tossed it in the garbage and gone out to dinner. What I offered seemed so ‘rustic’ compared to what one could get in a fine restaurant. I flooded myself with embarrassment.

Years later, after his wife died, my colleague mentioned that I was the only person who had ever brought them dinner when she was ill. I wanted him to say, it was delicious! but he just noted that I’d done it, that was the feat, just showing up.

It is not nothing, showing up. It takes some nerve. I speak from experience having to, first, believe in my pot roast, and, second, believe in my roast chicken. I am not a great cook so this belief doesn’t come easy.

I brought dinner to sick people wearing my red oven mitts. And I thought to myself, please just take this and put it on the counter in your kitchen and remember that I showed up. With all my shortcomings and wrong things, the too tough pot roast, the overdone chicken. I showed up. Love me for that.

 

_________

Photo: Martins Zemlickis

21 thoughts on “Knock

  1. It’s so true. When calamity happens in family or person’s life they are often ignored. I find it difficult to know how to respond but your post urges me to do something anyway. I have one former colleague diagnosed with cancer and a loved cousin and his wife, both with severe stages of cancer

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The most important and loving thing ever done for me was on the day a stranger showed up at my door with a meal for my family. I had been caring for my terminal mother and father and was so exhausted. Out of all my friends,family, my church…no one, and I do mean NO ONE, had ever even asked if there was something they could do to help.
    This gentleman had heard from the neighborhood grapevine that i was struggling and he did something about it. He brought a pot of chili and some fresh bread so I didn’t have to cook. That was years ago, but I still get a tear in my eyes whenever I think about the love that man showed to my family.
    Now, when my husband goes out to a patient’s home (he is a hospice nurse) I send a meal out with him for the caregivers. I doubt I will ever know the people I am feeding, but that is so unimportant. it is the feeling of love and hope I am sending with the meal that I think really makes a difference to someone. Thanks for this post and reminding me of Mr. Mahoud who thought to help a stranger.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Paula LUcey

    Excellent to remind people that a simple meal can mean so much more than a meal. And in the cases you mentioned, the situation went on for awhile and the help runs out fast. Does not have to be a full meal. Even a Jan Pie would be good

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this. It’s such an important reminder. I remember someone bringing me dinner after I’d had my first child. I was so exhausted. It was a wonderful gift. Sadly, I don’t remember if it was delicious. I only know how much it meant.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You strike such a chord with today’s post. It is hard to reach out into someone else’s trauma and grief. It takes courage to go to the door, to offer food, to say, so nakedly, “I care about what is happening to you.” I always assume that the person has others who are doing the hands-on caring, but it isn’t always the case.

    Liked by 2 people

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