the call came at 5:33 am. when I saw the time stamp on the voicemail, I knew without anyone telling me. she lost the baby.
when her husband answered the phone from the hospital room, he told me what I needed to hear first: she was physically ok. they were taking her into surgery, and the scene had been horrific. he told me not to leave my vacation to come, that her parents were there & so was he.
I almost went anyway.
when I hung up the phone, I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe. no, goddammit, she has fought SO HARD for her happiness – we all had. couldn’t the road just be easier for her, just this once? couldn’t she savor the new marriage and the new baby and the new chances for a little longer? we’d already learned to steel ourselves together, raise children alone together, survive breakups and grieve together – and although I know in hindsight that our chances to celebrate together have been frequent, that morning I was flooded by the pain we’d shared with each other and our other friends who have woven the safety net of our lives with their fingers. this was too much.
her husband called again at 5:32pm. she was out of surgery, they were going home. could I come this weekend?
Yes. tell her I’ll cook.
as I drove the hour to her house, with the buttermilk cake I baked, a chicken for roasting, the figs she loves, snacks for everyone & ingredients for a beef stew in her crockpot, I thought of all the meals I’d cooked, shared as a group in loss.
endless pots of minestrone when one of us lost her mother to a rare disease 11 brain specialists had never seen firsthand
brownies & red wine in the midst of a divorce that was so insane we thought we’d all end up on Oprah
cold cuts & onion jam as we prepared to bury a friend
… and a million other meals in a million other circumstances – thank god we have each other. the food never fixed the pain, but it gave us a reason to gather and a reason to touch and a reason, in some cases, even to hope.
love the ones you’re with, whenever you’re with them.
“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.” – M.F.K. Fisher