Four chairs. A table set for the same amount of people. Food brought out and served in casserole dishes the way a normal family has dinner on a weeknight. Everything that has been missing from my life was suddenly and very easily put in front of me. It sounds simple. It actually is simple. Without the need for a big event, this one act of friendship brought something that was so faraway for so long in my life that I’d forgotten.
Sitting in a chair at the counter chopping vegetables and placing them in salad bowls felt like home. The rest of the meal went pretty much the same way. Two adults and two teenagers talking about their days and what the next day was going to being. Clearing the table and then watching a stupid sitcom while outside there was still the minor issue of snow falling. But the scenario was more than just a stupid dream, it was real life.
I didn’t know what to expect. Having someone do this is so far afield from my life for the past decade plus that I honestly thought they might go way overboard in the approach. But it was the polar opposite. Simple, not perfect. But in every way that matters it was.
Part of having closed off my mind to this obviously came when my own daughter passed. You give up on this. You have to in order to survive. The kitchen table goes from nurturing to terrifying. Eating on the floor in the garage becomes a better emotional escape (never did that, but you get the point!)
No one waited on me. I was as much a part of the process as any other person. If I wanted something it was on me to speak up.
Gee, did I just describe family dinner just about any place on the planet? Pretty sure I did!
In the past I always said I could live with someone making me a peanut butter sandwich and putting it in front of me. It wasn’t the meal, it was the effort. We can laugh about the pie crust being burned, like it was last night, because all that matter was that someone tried. Failure might be the way some look at it, I want to think of it as life.
Did it matter that later I was so tired that falling asleep on the couch was not only forgiven, but encouraged. We all knew I was pushing myself for other reasons, so feeling comfortable enough to let myself just shut my eyes might have been better than the flowers I brought with me.
Why should any of this matter to the world? Why share normal life? It was the best help any person could have given me. Feeling normal at a time when that still seems just out of reach most days.
On Monday night, in the faraway town of Newton Massachusetts, a guy had dinner. A he felt good.