What It’s Like


At the Farmer’s Market last week I found a beautiful pork roast, island-raised, well-marbled. Frozen. So I set it to thaw, and then sort of ignored it. It seemed too big, too substantial, until today, when I realized that if I didn’t cook it the pig might have given her life in vain.

So I rubbed it with pink peppercorns, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, garlic, and roasted it all afternoon, ever so slowly. Made a sauce of vermouth and cream and pan drippings, utterly delicious. Based on this recipe, only slow-roasted, pulled into chunks, doused with the sauce. Absolutely delicious.

And then I put some on my plate, with nothing else, because I’d had radicchio for lunch and felt that I’d had my vegetables for the day. A glass or two of Hendrick’s before dinner, with seaweed snacks, a favorite light apéro, a surprisingly great combination.

Sat down at the table, took a couple of bites, and couldn’t eat. Had to put down my fork and not pick it up again. Because, you know, it was way too good to eat alone. The salt in my tears added to the salt in the sauce, already perfectly seasoned. Making something really good, to eat all by myself = does not compute. Even at the end, when Shel could only eat Mint Milano cookies, he was there with me, at the table. He would have taken a bite or two of the delectable pork, for old time’s sake.

Everything I’ve read about grief tells me that it isn’t linear, it lies in wait, pounces with claws bared to shred the most peaceful moment. A simple dinner, roast pork in a fragrant sauce, reminds me of all I’ve lost. It’s not just losing Shel. Now I don’t have a husband. Now I’m not a wife. I hate death. I don’t want to have given my life in vain.

Explore posts in the same categories: French Letters Visits America

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4 Comments on “What It’s Like”

  1. Abra, Your grief touches my grief. Your words bring me to tears and makes my buried grief somehow more beautiful. It’s like a beautiful tumbling of old..new..grief on top of old..new grief. Such beauty even in loss. In breakdown. Meaning shines bright for me, in that you remind me, we all are in this together. That we’re not here in vain. Thank you.

  2. rebecca Says:

    I,too, have heard that grief is not linear. Doesn’t that suck? Scabs heal back to skin, or at worst, a scar. Hair grows long again, even after a lousy haircut. We get over a cold or the flu and back to our routine. Wrinkles keep coming; they don’t seem to disappear. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to hear: tomorrow will be better. And next week better still. I guess I’m holding out hope for that along grief’s journey. And I hold it out for you as well. Thinking otherwise can sometimes be too much to bear. I believe your strength will carry you forward to a place where your memories of Shel are a pleasure and not all pain. (It might take a while to get rid of the folded up piles of clothes on his side of the bed, though…)

  3. LAURENT Says:

    Bonjour Abra,
    Je vois que tu remontes un peu la pente, c’est bien et que tu vives dans le souvenir de Shel c’est super, gardes Toi bien et surtout occupes toi bien de Toi.
    Nous t’embrassons bien fort

  4. Nina Says:

    I’m so sorry, Abra. Grief does catch at strange times. After three years, I was in tears watching a lovely young woman dance with her dad, at her wedding. My girl did not have that opportunity.
    I, too, love to cook, and after similar experiences, always called a friend to come and eat with me, or offered to take the food to them. I was never turned down, even if I waited a day to eat my creation. I hope this might work for you.
    I send my sympathies. This is such a tough time, but moments of joy will come, and they will eventually come more often. This I know for sure.
    I’m looking for the courage to go back to France. Perhaps you will go before me, and I will have the guts to follow.

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