Saturday, November 23, 2013

Grief Cooking

I recently read an article on Paula Wolfert and Alzheimer's in the Washington Post. There is an argument for cooking being a type of therapy. There seems to be a lot of grief around these days. Friends of mine are going through a rough patch as they watch their mother deteriorate. This morning she passed. Her legendary recipe are these cookies that were made every Christmas. I do hope that someone carries it on. Not that they will replicate the recipe but there is something in the doing. Through the practice comes memorial.

December has been a hard month for me traditionally as my father passed in a fishing accident a while back. I've never properly grieved. I'm going through a rough patch right now and my mind turns to cooking. It's not eating but rather the act of repetition, muscle memory and putting the love and ache into the food. While your mind can't do much, your body remembers.

I have made stock for better days, put away leftovers and put together meals with odds and sods. Each meal is an act in survival. Each plate I put before my family is a small offering of love. Where I often find myself not able to give the support as I grieve, I find that the dishes offer a poor stand in. As I work, I begin to heal and slowly I will drift away from my kitchen to be again with my loved ones. The mental and emotional numbness will give way to exhaustion, daily. Then I will begin to feel again and hugs, smiles, and cuddles will flow freely. But now, I work in the kitchen to get to the same point every day. Every day, my body remembers a technique. Every day, the confidence from the kitchen returns a little confidence to the rest of my life.

When all the food is gone, the freezer emptied, and the dishes done, then and only then will I know that the time for grieving is past.

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