There’s a simple reason for the scarcity of recipe posts in 2019: most of the meals I shared with Arlene this year were the Thai take-out she brought me in the hospital.
It’s always been easier to blog about Mark’s allergies because it means I don’t have to think about my own collection of chronic conditions. This Fall, though, my health issues began to catch up with me in the worst of ways. My first trip to the hospital was just after Thanksgiving, setting off a sequence of events where I proceeded to spend more time in than out, chasing after that elusive combination of medications and therapies that would bring ME back to me. It was not until May — THIS MONTH — that I got my body back.
The need to be at the hospital was scary at first, then month after month, it got hopeless as I continued to not get better.
But the thing is, Arlene didn’t give up on me. She had hope — hope that manifested in take-out fried rice, brought to me from Chili Basil Thai Restaurant along with whatever Thai dish she had ordered for herself this time. All winter and into spring, Arlene visited me in hospitals and sat with me, eating a leisurely Thai dinner and sharing her firm belief that I could get my health back, that I would feel good, that I deserve to feel good. I needed to hear that message more than anything in the world.
Because Arlene was right.
I’m back in the world of the functioning, after an exhausting journey. I’m celebrating today by making banana pancakes, because if there’s one thing I learned this year, it’s that you only live once. And I’d like to spend this week of my life eating pancakes for breakfast every day.
After spending Christmas, New Years, and my birthday in hospitals this year, I’m inordinately excited to spend Mothers Day at home with my mom tomorrow. The only holiday I really enjoyed between hospital stays was Passover, which was unquestioningly the best weekend of 2019.
But there’s one more celebration I’m looking forward to, which will be scheduled soon between me, Arlene, Mark, and Ben — a combination birthday for the three of them (they all have May birthdays) alongside the shear joy of my being discharged from the hospital with no need for readmission. We’ll need to bake a cake, and I’ve already bought cards. I’m beyond excited for cooking in their kitchen again soon, the kitchen I’ve often referred to as our Dream Kitchen thanks to the upgrade it received from John, the kitchen guy, when Arlene first bought the house. Dream Kitchen, here I come 😉 !
I feel we’ve reached an equilibrium: for years, I put everything I had into taking care of Mark and Ben, making sure they were eating real food and balanced meals, teaching them how to take charge of cooking for themselves. I gave them the gift of my time, my commitment. And I loved them like it was my job to love them, believed in them and their futures, dreaming big for how far I knew they could go some day. So this year when what I needed more than anything in the world was for someone to believe in me when I’d forgotten how to believe in myself, this year Arlene paid me back for my years of belief in her kids by believing that I would reach good health.
Arlene, you Wonderfully Amazing You: THANK YOU for this year. I’m learning to dream big about my future, but as for my short-term goal, there will be no more fried rice in hospitals. Next up, we’ll be able to eat the Thai food at the Thai restaurant. And right now, that feels like the most exciting privilege in the world ❤