I have some thoughts on meal trains. First, I think you should understand where I was last year, where I am this year and why, because of these two different places, I will never again turn down being on the giving or receiving end of an offered meal.
Last year, after my Mom died, everyone wanted to help out somehow. And I shunned that help (and so much more help for this past year that I am now exactly where I was instead of being even partially healed, but more on that later). I didn’t want people to bring me food or clean my house or do anything that I thought I should be able to do for myself. My family suffered for this. I couldn’t cook or clean or grocery shop. The only thing I could do was sit and cry and hide in parking lots or camp on my best friends’ couch while they worried they’d have to pick me up and physically drive me home. It was an ugly time. And it passed into winter like this. I lost my ability to really and truly provide care for myself or my family. But it was what it was.
Fast forward to this week. My husband had a doctor’s appointment on Monday and by Thursday he was in surgery. Words like Cancer and Chemo are being thrown around. This came in the wake of some rather personal revelations on both are parts that have sent us back to therapy. Things are basically as rough as they could be going into the school year, in a new house that is barely unpacked and has weeds and moving trash piling up like it’s possibly breeding while we sleep. At the time that he announced the surgery and upcoming weeks off to his coworkers, they settled on providing us meals. I dug my heels in and said “no” but during the course of the few days between Monday and the surgery, he convinced me it as something he wanted, and I conceded.
That first day was rough. The surgery went well, it was fast and he was home within a few hours. We will know if the results are good, less good, or not at all good in a week or two. We were both exhausted, he was so sore he couldn’t get in and out of bed without help (still can’t) our daughter was rambunctious and worried. The house was a wreck. And then a friend, a friend on vacation in another country, had one of her employees deliver a sack filled with food from her restaurant. And one of his coworkers delivered the first meal of the train. And there was a moment of such profound relief that I couldn’t quite explain it. I realized then I didn’t have the energy to plan a meal, let alone cook it. I’d have had to go to the store for ingredients we didn’t have. There would have been dishes to do. Those meals, delivered in disposable containers, heated on someone else’s stove were going to save my life. I realized that in those few moments and I was completely humbled.
A hot meal has been delivered to our home every day since. And they are continuing to be delivered into next week. Having this one weight lifted from our shoulders right now is more than I can be grateful for. Not having to wonder if the kid will have a hot meal, if there will be food to give the husband when he does get hungry, being able to quickly feed myself; they are a relief I can’t describe. Not to mention that between hospital copays, prescriptions and other needed items, things were tight this paycheck. I would not have been able to afford the meals that are being brought to us, let alone prepare them with the energy I have to spend.
The long and short is this. This kindness, this humbling display of friendship, community and outreach, it is healing more than just a broken and stitched up body. It is healing a little of the faith in my fellow humans I lost when my mom died. I holed up with people who didn’t have that faith inside them and let it grow into a belief that maybe people aren’t good. Maybe there wasn’t anything left of the community I believed for so long to be a reality. now I see it. It’s glimmering around the edges of a home-cooked pot roast, in the friendly smile delivered alongside a slow roasted chicken and green beans. There’s hope there. Hope that everything is going to be okay. That everyone really does have some good. That we will get through this because we aren’t on this island alone.