Table For One

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This is my first night alone, friends and family having all returned to their regularly scheduled programming, as Shel used to say. And tonight, because grief has its own logic, it turned out that eating dinner alone was one of the harder things I’ve had to do lately.

I know, a lot of you probably couldn’t eat a thing at a time like this, but I’ve never been that way, and have now proven definitively that I never will be. Most of me thought that I should be eating something standing in the kitchen, or in front of my computer. A small, sane part of me remembered the words of the wise Hospice social worker, who advised me to begin right away to find “a new normal.”

All day today I’ve been thinking about the new normal. I can flush the toilet early in the morning without worrying about waking Shel up. I can open the blinds when I wake up, because he’s not still sleeping. I can have breakfast right after I open the blinds, because I’m not letting him get his sleep. And so on and so on, all through the day, until dinnertime, when I froze. But then I remembered some excellent chicken in red wine vinegar and crème fraîche left over in the fridge, from when Tom and I made dinner on the night Shel died.

I dared to set the table, pour wine, sit and eat without even a book in front of me. I’ll confess that I didn’t really taste what I was eating. But I did it. I sat at a table for one.

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21 Comments on “Table For One”

  1. Smithy Says:

    Blessings upon you, Abra.

  2. Diane Says:

    You were right to avoid standing in the kitchen eating dinner – you are the one needing your good care now, treat yourself like company. I know about grief and hope you have at least one close friend who’s been through this already. It helps. People who have been through the death of someone they love are usually less afraid of talking about it with you. I wanted it to be over fast and actually went to a grief counselor to find out “how long it lasts.” Ha. I didn’t like the answer and it turned out to be conservative. When I said, “I just want things to be back to normal” I, too, heard the phrase “new normal” and had to chew on that unwillingly.
     
    I learned that for many of us the big ugly wave of grief washes over for about 20 minutes and then subsides for awhile. I learned that people who are paying attention will feel the presence of their lost one around them and will see unexpected hellos. I hope you do. And I learned to place importance on the entire relationship and not just the last days/weeks of it.
     
    I remember the first time I met you and Shel – it was the CompuServe Cook’s Forum group and we went for dim sum in Bellevue and you guided us through. That was so long ago, you must have been fairly new to each other. I also remember love and warmth and happiness. Smiling at the memory, I’ll keep that one warm for you. 

    Diane

  3. Conni Brownell Says:

    You are in my mind constantly, big hug coming you way

  4. LuAnne Says:

    Thank you for sharing your most vulnerability Abra. So many warm and loving thoughts are being channeled towards you. I’m at a loss of words. I wish you comfort in this journey of grief.

  5. Lucy V Says:

    Oh Abra, I’m thinking of you today.


  6. Your strength, your enduring strength has been inspiring. To sit at a table for one took immense courage. My condolences and thoughts are with you as is my gratitude for sharing your life with us.

  7. andrée Says:

    Chère Abra, Nous pensons bien à vous en ces moments difficiles et nous vous envoyons nos condoléances et nos pensées de réconfort et de courage.

  8. sauton jean claude Says:

    bonjour Abra,

    je vien d’aprendre la térible nouvelle par facebook.

    je vous adresse mes plus sincéres condoléances à vous, Eric que j’avais rencontré à Uzes, et votre famille.

    de tous coeur avec vous. Jean Claude

    ps: maman se joint à moi.

  9. Price Naryka Says:

    Oh, Abra. I so wish you lived closer so that Joe and I could share many meals with you. I will always remember the nice time we spent with you and Shel in our kitchen, when you were in Atlanta visiting Margaret.

    Happiness will return but it may take some time for you, as you and Shel were a close and devoted team.

  10. Julianne Says:

    Abra, what a beautiful way to care for yourself. Hugs and love to you from Minneapolis.

  11. Janan Henry Says:

    Dear Abra, I knew Shel for over forty years. Although you and I have never met, I feel I know you because your writing is so honest. I agree, you were brave to dine alone, but you were also wise to listen to the hospice social worker. Please know that I do care what happens to you and your remarkable spirit. I do hope more writing is a big part of your “new normal” – yours is a tremendous gift that needs to be shared, and I believe it will help you,too.

  12. Sue Geisler Says:

    Water is a great healer – Sit and let the sound of the waves calm you. The tide is out now,, but it keeps going and so will you. My deepest sympathy for your loss of a great partner. We only met once, but the dinner at Tadich with you, Shel and Jackie is still in my memory..

  13. Chele Says:

    Hugs, dear Abra.

  14. Henk and Greta Says:

    So brave, Abra and so right to do! You have shown us the way we should go. If only we can, if the moment is there. If only we could be as brave as you are. We send you a big hug and remember our homme aimable and you.

  15. Linda Says:

    It’s hard to keep moving and breathing when the other has stopped. I know you’ll feel his presence in so many ways. He wants to know you’ll be okay.

  16. Chele Says:

    I forgot to tell you that we did some songs for Shel last night, at the Pegasus jam. And here’s another hug, just because.

  17. Mary Kay Gehring Says:

    My wish for you is that you soon find comfort and joy in your memories. Wishing you only the best….

  18. Richard Hall Says:

    ABRA, WITH CISSY DYING ON THANKSGIVING DAY AFTER A SEVEN YEAR BATTLE WITH OVARIAN CANCER AND HER MOM, WHOM WE LOOKED AFTER FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS, LOOKING UP AT ME WHEN I TOLD HER CISSY WOULD NOT BE COMING HOME FROM SLOAN KETTERING AND SAYING THE THE LORD HAD BECOME CONFUSED. I KNEW WHAT WHEN MEANT AND 6 WEEKS THEREAFTER SHE JOINED CISSY. FOR A WHILE ALL OF THE “TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS THINGS” PASSED THE TIME BUT OF LATE THE REALITY AND QUITE HAVE SET IN AND IT IS NO FUN, I AGREE. GOD BLESS YOU. HE WILL OPEN NEW DOORS AND IT IS THE REFLECTION ON THE MEANING OF THINGS THAT WILL CLARIFY THE ROAD. COUSIN RICHARD

  19. Robin G Says:

    Abra

    I read about your loss on the Cooks Forum and want you to know you are in our hearts tonight.

    Robin

  20. Karen Says:

    Abra — As someone mentioned earlier, I believe your writing will lead you through this difficult time and to a “new normal.” You have a gift and through it you and Shel taught us all great lessons in living life with gusto and grace. Like you, even in crisis, sickness, and great sadness, I always return to the kitchen. I found a few photos from our Corkheads days, but don’t think I can attach them here. Will send by email, if you want. I contacted some of Shel’s old CMHC friends and colleagues and all were very sad to hear of his passing and send you their condolences. Karen

  21. Barry Twyman Says:

    You are a strong Woman Abra…and Shel is proud of you right now …me too . Courage mon amie, everyone is with you in Spirit xx


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