There are many books and movies about falling love. If one were to use these as their guide, it would seem that the best part of love is the falling. It is rare to see what happens after the fall. So few stories celebrate what it means to stay in love, to really have a relationship.
I am extremely fortunate. My life has been filled with many long and meaningful relationships: family, friendships, mentorships, companion animals, life pursuits, and my wonderful marriage. Each of these relationships is valuable and each is unique. I believe this is the reason that enduring relationships so often go unexplored by Hollywood. Long term relationships are messy and there is no formula for them. Each relationship, be it with a partner or pet, is its own water slide of twists and turns. No matter how “good” the relationship, there are times when you will get a face full of water and wonder why you ever got on the silly thing in the first place. You just can’t address something this complex in two hours or 300 pages.
One of my loves, my passions, is food. I did not come from a particularly “foodie” family. Food was simply nourishment, sometimes it was tasty, and, on one memorably Thanksgiving, it was harbinger of misery. On that day the entire family contracted food poisoning from an undercooked turkey. Despite the odds, I have developed a love of all things food: shopping for food, reading about food, writing about food, cooking food, eating food, and sharing food. Within my family, I have become something of a celebrity. My role has become the provider of treats and it is one that I cherish.
Except when I don’t. Over the past few months, I haven’t felt much like cooking. My job has consumed a lot of energy, there has been housework, financial concerns, worry over the health of loved ones, and a lack of inspiration. Cooking, which has for years been a source of pleasure, simply felt like a chore.
Recently, I experienced both a great loss and a great discovery. I lost a dear family member. Someone who shared my passion for food and who I loved to sit and trade tips with. There was a lot he couldn’t do, the abilities of his body often limited the boundless ambitions of his heart and mind, but he loved food and family. This was a bond we shared.
He knew his way around the kitchen and he knew his away around matters of the heart. He left behind an adored and adoring wife of more than thirty years and three daughters who learned his lessons on loving well. By observing over my lifetime his, and their, example I have pieced together the following wisdom. Falling in love once is easy. The secret is falling in love with the same person, people, animals, or pursuits again and again and trusting that, if you are not overwhelmed by love right at this moment, that the feeling will come again if you keep your heart open to it.
I knew there was nothing I could do to patch the hole left by the parting of this extraordinary man. What I could do was cook and, hopefully, provide some comfort and nourishment. So I chopped, roasted, sauteed, mixed, seasoned, and blended. In doing so, I again fell in love with power of food. I believe finding this love again was another gift that my uncle wanted me to have. It is a gift I promise to cherish and share.