Rob has always been appreciative of whoever puts food in front of him, even me. This week while we’re away at the beach house we’ve been preparing meals together—planning, shopping, chopping, grilling, sautéing and cleaning up afterwards. Kitchen work has never been my forte but this week it’s been downright satisfying.
After his cystectomy, then six weeks of recovery complete with the gracious food offerings from scads of dear friends and family members, we have both convalesced back to the new normal (as if anything could be “normal” again?) The notion of “Mealtrain” has taken on infinitely more meaning than the brand name of a convenient electronic application. Since back when I had babies at least, bringing a family a meal has changed from delivering a quiche or a tuna casserole to supplying appetizers, drinks, entrée, salad, dessert and even, once believe it or not, tickets to a show.
Albeit I’ve told people how stunned and bereft we’ve been at times; coming home from the hospital without a bladder slows down both the bladderless and his beloved especially in the face of that bothersome inguinal node biopsy. People get it and they love us. It’s humbling to be so dependent on the goodwill of others. We find ourselves opening our arms and hearts wide to accept all this love and care and saying, “Thanks.” A simple Thank you seems woefully inadequate when someone offers you life itself. That was often how the exchange of food on our front porch felt. It seems like eons ago when Rob first got home and our bedroom and bath resembled a M.A.S.H. unit, given all the extra hospital-like paraphernalia. Now though, it looks almost like it used to and this Labor Day weekend seems rather ordinary. We’re doing house projects, kayaking, riding bikes, sleeping in and cooking for each other.
Let it be said—we would absolutely be nowhere near this well without the fabulous edibles we’ve been given.
It has been Real Nourishment–providing physical, social and spiritual care. Sometimes desserts arrived through the mail, even ice cream once and chocolate-covered fruit another time. Our neighbor made cheesecake. A gift certificate for home delivery came. In the latter weeks when I ventured out to represent us, I came home with a full plate of dinner for Rob more than once. Another couple drove across the country in their RV to bring us a store-bought canister of delicious Southern cheese sticks. These folks follow directions and are not proud. Neither am I. I practically begged for food in one of my posts explaining, “It helps when you bring us food and also when we don’t talk about cancer all the time.” Our friends do what it takes. And boy are we grateful!
For instance, about three weeks post-surgery, Mr. Rockoff and his bride took the cake; little did they know they were starting a whole new mealtrain route. They presented us Pork Tinga and Cuban Black Beans, enough for an army. Since Rob was feeling up to it, they agreed to stay for dinner. With the flowers and champagne they’d brought along, we were able to set a nice table on the deck and pretend all was well again. Afterwards there was enough entrée to put several packets for two in the freezer. I ask you, who gets gourmet left-overs like this?!
During week four, our neighbors who’d signed up to bring food texted to say their baby had an infection. No one was getting any sleep at their house, besides the antibiotics needed to kick-in before they could feed themselves reliably much less anyone else. Seemed like the perfect destination for one of the freezer packs. Even poor grieving me, the post-surgery spouse, could make it next door and extend the mealtrain to its next stop.
By the time another friend learned she needed emergency surgery to get rid of her pesky gall bladder, we were ready. We dubbed those fancy pork and beans “Rockoff Bowls” and wrote up the instructions. Besides the frozen packet, we added an avocado, chips, salsa, cheese and sour cream to a delivery bag. I was traveling across town by then and I knew first-hand how well my delivery would feed her husband/caregiver. I was happy to return the favor that so many others bestowed on us.
About a week ago, my brother-in-law delivered chicken sausages, stuffed peppers, salads and It’s Itses ice cream sandwiches. I admitted, “We are really going to miss socializing with our personalized chefs when this mealtrain ends. It still seems a tad daunting to feed ourselves 100% of the time but Rob is almost well…” My BIL cut me off, “Don’t tell anyone! We like doing this.” It’s true, people have been so kind and besides the circle is becoming reciprocal.
You don’t have to get sick to sample the goods. Our friend has forked over the recipe. Why don’t you come join us for dinner? We’re preparing Rockoff Bowls tonight and there’s plenty for YOU too.