Some Blessings of Loss

Of Sharing Food and Food Shared

Since we lost Bud, we have been so blessed by loving gifts of food. I’ve always deeply enjoyed cooking for others and it was shocking to not be able to cook for those first days and weeks. The steady arrival of nourishment accompanied by quiet love has give all of us a new appreciation for this gracious gesture. It’s been wonderful to not even have to think about food, yet to always have plenty when the house fills up (as it often does).

This sudden loss has opened me up in some new ways. Sudden death is hugely shocking; it knocks you out of your routines and mental grooves into a new space. It can open up a new way of being in relationship to the one who is gone; although there is no longer a physical presence, you still have all the richness and fullness of the past. You can still have an inner conversation, and you can still sense all that lies between you.

I also feel newly able to ask for help and receive it with gratitude instead of vague guilt. I’m accepting help with financial and technical issues, accepting help around the home and yard, and letting people drive me places. This may be the first time I’ve ever let people bring me food  (other than for a potluck). For perhaps the first time in my life, I also feel free to ask specifically for what I want: for me, comfort food is wintery vegetarian soups, rice-and-bean dishes, and casseroles. I know–chocolate is not on the list. I was surprised too.

Love Is The Best Seasoning

Now I am beginning to cook again, and with some pleasure, yet it is still a lovely experience to have a warm, fragrant meal brought to the door by kind, loving friends. Last night, my son and a friend were playing mandolin duets in front of the fireplace as snow fell. Cats were draped over the most comfortable chairs, and my daughter-in-law and her younger sister (who is living with us now) were converting the upstairs guest room into a cosy place for a young teenager.

The doorbell rang and in came a smiling friend with a hug and a basket of hot food. As we sat and held hands for a moment before eating together, I felt so grateful for this lively family and the ongoing life that fills this big old house.  I felt enriched by all of us sharing this food together, and the sharing with those who bring us both food and their kindness, which gives food the richest flavor of all.

A Pretty Pumpkin Soup

Since cold was coming, I decided to bake a lingering Halloween pumpkin before it froze to mush. After cleaning out the seeds and stringy bits, I poured in some broth and spices and baked it until tender. When done, you bring the pumpkin to the table and serve it as its own pot, scraping some cooked pulp into each bowl. Serve it it a deep platter, though, because a baked pumpkin tends to leak….

Baked Pumpkin Soup In Its Own Shell

1 medium (3-5 pound) pie pumpkin
3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, stemmed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stemmed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated

Cut top off pumpkin and scoop out seeds and stringy stuff. Place pumpkin in a deep baking dish, fill with broth, herbs, and butter and bake at 350 degrees F. until tender (50-60 minutes). Adjust seasoning to taste and bring pumpkin to the table. Serve broth and baked pumpkin pulp in bowls, topped with grated cheese. Serves 4-6.

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