Have you ever been invited to go on a trip with someone to some exciting or exotic location? Well, consider yourself “invited”. I would love for you to join me as I travel to a place near and dear to my heart. You may not find it too exciting and you may not think of it as an exotic destination, but I believe you will find it a place of warmth and wonder. We are going to take a journey into the past and visit a kitchen.
This is no ordinary kitchen mind you; this is my mother’s kitchen. This is the place where loving memories were forever etched in a young boy’s brain. This is the kitchen where my Basset Hound “C.B.” (short for Cornbread Buttermilk) ate the fresh strawberry cake shaped as a heart that my mother had tenderly taken from the oven and had left on the counter to cool. This kitchen is where countless chickens were fried; potatoes were mashed; beans were boiled; breads were baked; cakes were made; eggs were scrambled, fried, poached…you get the picture.
One of the most fascinating things that took place in mother’s kitchen was the cooking of spaghetti. I was always captivated by the process. Mom would begin by picking out a certain pot from under the counter, add water from the faucet, a pinch of salt and then set it on the stove to bring to a rapid boil. She would then go to the pantry and bring out the spaghetti. Once I saw the spaghetti exit the confines of that cabinet I knew that the best part of the process was only minutes away. At just the right moment my mother would take the spaghetti out of the package and hold the uniform bundle of pasta in her soft hand, turn to the stove and hold the “innocent sticks” over the pot of boiling water in dramatic fashion. Next she would release the spaghetti from her gentle grasp and it would fall into the water and I would watch with wonder as the spaghetti would form a fan around the rim. As the water temperature would quickly come back to a boil, the spaghetti would begin to change. It would begin to grow limp and gradually sink into the pot. The minutes would pass by, the cooking process was underway, it would not be long before it would be time to drain the pasta in the big metal colander, add a touch of oil to keep it from sticking and get ready to add the sauce. Fascinating!
When I think of the losses that I have experienced in this life, I think of mother’s kitchen and the spaghetti that she would cook from time to time. It seems to me that I can almost understand how the pasta must have felt as it was taken from the familiar surroundings of the pantry shelf, removed from its package and exposed to the violent heat of the boiling water. I remember the feelings that came when my nice, neat and straight routine world was transformed into a limp mass of twists, turns and curves. Perhaps most of all I am reminded that, just like the spaghetti no matter how hard I try, I will never be the same again. The grieving process has changed me and life is forever different. I cannot go back to being what I was before.
Are things worse? No, just different. In fact, in many ways things are much better. I believe I am much more valuable (eatable) after being touched by loss than I was before. Now that I have spent years trying to adjust to life as it is, as opposed to the way it used to be, I feel that I can say; yes the process is difficult at times, and yes the water is hot, and yes the transformation is not easy. However, all things considered, I have found that the end result has been exciting in a way. As a matter of fact, the transformation has been much more enjoyable than I would have ever imagined (esp. if you add the sauce).
Something to think about…