Today after summoning all of my extra energy, and I really do mean ALL of it, I tried to make bruschetta pasta for dinner. Before John died I was a great and avid cook. I saw the bruschetta recipe on a menu for $15 and knew with that simple list of ingredients I could make that no problem. But that was before I lost the cheese grater. After finding the pot and pasta and pulling the cheese out of the refrigerator I went looking for the cheese grater. It was missing. “Where the hell is that blanketly, blankerson cheese grater”, I said out loud, “that blanketly cheese grater is always in this drawer”. After several minutes of muttering and cussing around the kitchen I gave up on the bastard cheese grater and headed to look for the other simple and staple ingredients every house has. Onions and minced garlic. But after an exhaustive search of the refrigerator-including but not limited to literally lifting up the milk gallon-I found there were no onions, “What! How can that be? I swear, truly I had four onions-four! Someone stole my onions AND my cheese grater!” my mind begins to race around as I try to figure out how this is happening. Well if I can’t have onions I’ll at least use extra garlic-the minced kind in the large jar and aha! No one has pilfered the garlic. But wait the lid is fastened on so tight it will not, WILL NOT budge. As I fight the jar swinging around the kitchen trying to use my body movement as momentum I realize that there is an expiration date on top of the jar. Expired July 2013. It’s August-“How? How I ask myself, and my now quite bewildered beagle, did THAT happen?” This stuff lasts forever and not only that we use it so fast that we buy it in bulk.
Slowly, the fog lifts for an instant-one tiny moment of semi-sane clarity. John died 47 weeks and 4 days ago. I have not opened this jar since he died. Wait- when did I really last buy onions? Reality dawns on me. WE- John and I- never ran out of onions because he always put them on the list. Now if I make a list I can’t remember where it is even so I stopped trying to even make lists months ago. Garlic. It too was a staple, and had been part of the before John died days, because we-John and I cooked avidly and used more garlic than anyone we knew. I now graze through the refrigerator eating hunks of cheese and pickled beets out of the jar. No wonder the garlic was expired. My kitchen had finally gone the way of seven month toilet paper shortage.
My paper towel and toilet paper stash was so well stocked because John was so diligent of about keeping a plentiful supply on hand that it wasn’t till I was resorting to Kleenex seven months after he died that I realized I hadn’t bought any toilet paper or paper towels since he died. I simply went to the basement and got it. I hadn’t thought about it in my grief fog. It was one of those things John had taken care of. That he always took care of. Another small way he always took care of me.
But now my kitchen had gone the way of the seven month toilet paper shortage-to pot. As I looked through the pantry box after box, jar after jar expired. My life has literally been passing by in a fog. Days and weeks and months till nearly a year after John died and I’m still in and out of a reality I didn’t choose, wouldn’t choose and am navigating slowly and without direction. But as all widows and widowers know there is no option, no going back and no amount of bitterness, anger, wailing or bargaining with God is going to change it. So I changed my recipe. Instead of bruschetta pasta I made provencal pasta. Olives- I had those, balsamic vinegar I had that- grated cheese- oh damn that cheese grater that by the way I never have found! But it turned out okay. I, like John did so many times in his life, improvised. I cubed the cheese and although different, although not what I planned or tried for it was okay-not great but okay and for that I am grateful. Although I really would like to know where that cheese grater is.