Last night, Danielle and I came home with a couple of bags of groceries in hand. As we began to unpack them, she looked at me and said, “I bought you a present. Look inside.” She motioned toward the remaining bag.
I peered inside, and tears filled my eyes before I could even vocalize what she’d bought. There, sitting alone on the bottom of the grocery bag, were four small plastic containers of Kozy Shack Rice Pudding. My mom’s favorite.
I cried a good cry, tears of happiness at the beautiful gesture and tears of longing for the woman who would eat those treats, rather than the remnants of those things she most adored on this earth.
When it came time for dessert, I moved with glee back to the kitchen and pried open a container. Spoon in hand, tears in my eyes, I scooped a delicious scoop of that white delicacy into my mouth.
And then I spit it out.
Kozy Shack Rice Pudding is disgusting. Tasteless, mushy, with the aroma of chemicals. Way to go Lori.
I don’t know what she saw in that (Or, for that matter, half the other foods she most loved. An aside: last November, after Thanksgiving, we brought her into the ICU. We did not know it at the time, but this was the beginning of the end, when cancer started winning. Once she was settled in her room, she made us leave to go get her two tacos from Taco Bell).
But as I reflect on the putrid dessert-that-Lori-loved, I focus more on the smile that beamed from her face as she ate it, not the taste of the food itself. And the thought of that smile makes me smile, until it makes me cry.
Yesterday marked seven months since she left this earth. More than a year ago she began fading away into the realm of disease, pain and suffering. Out of nowhere. She was fine until she wasn’t. At the height of her life – her son was ordained, her two daughters married – she did not get to live any longer.
It was cruel. Unfair. There is no sense in it. None to make, at least.
So I still mourn.
And then, in a few months it will no longer be time to say Kaddish. Eleven months and one day ends on November 11, Veterans Day. Then, I pray, we can stop being so hurt by the war that we fought and lost, by the battles and the scars and the destruction and the PTSD.
Then, I pray, we can just start to remember that smile, that small clear smile that spoke volumes. I miss that more than anything.
And then, never again will I eat Kozy Shack Rice Pudding in an attempt to remember it.