I spent this week doing what I love. I cooked. I got creative. I tried new recipes. I played with different ingredients. My back hurt. My feet hurt. My used-to-the-cubicle body is so not used to working like that. But I was a good tired at the end of the day. And I really felt like I accomplished something.
One of the last recipes of the week was a macaroni and cheese. I had some very lovely gooey French cheese, a little tangy chevre, and a lovely block of cheese with truffle flecks. And I had thick cut applewood-smoked bacon. I started my roux for the sauce, added the milk, added in the cheese. It was just lovely. I cut the bacon into lardons, cooked it up, only shared a little with the cats and the dog. And then it was time to cook the noodles.
I was sure that I had several bags of macaroni in the top of the pantry. So sure that I never even checked before I did my shopping. Of course, there was no macaroni up there. But I knew where some was. I just had to do something I had avoided doing for a long time now.
When my grandmother died at the end of January, I helped my aunt and my mother go through all of her things in her apartment. I claimed the things that mattered to me. I boxed them up. I took them home. And I haven’t been able to bring myself to open those boxes and put those things away. I guess in a sense, if I do that, it will mean that she really is gone.
She hoarded dry goods. She would get them when they were on sale and repackage them in vacuum sealed bags. We found rice, spaghetti, cream of wheat, powdered milk, and, of course, macaroni noodles. We divided them up. My share has been in a box in the kitchen ever since.
I almost couldn’t open it. Yes, there were the noodles I needed, and they were just noodles, nothing special, nothing that couldn’t be replaced. It would just be silly to not use them. So, I took a deep breath, and I opened the box. And there they were, right on top.
When I was cooking them, it was almost like she was there with me, approving of what I was doing by cooking for my family, laughing at my expensive cheeses. It was nice. When we ate it, I could imagine her tasting it and deciding that my cheeses weren’t so silly after all. She would definitely have approved of the bacon.
Can I open the other boxes and put things away now? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll savor using each thing one at a time, keeping her with me in spirit as long as I can.