Writing about hunger in my home when there are children knowing physical hunger may seem unusual. While I strive to model a life of upholding causes, today I am drawn to this quote by Mother Teresa, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
Two short years ago, my girls sat at the kitchen table, listening as one half of their soul talked about unhappiness. He shared words about always being there, said they were loved and they would always know this. Many assurances ripped through my being as each began with 'we decided,''we will' and 'we think it is for the best.' My ability to be resilient crumbled as their tears fell, their dreams dashed, their lives inexplicably broken. The day turned long with walking on eggshells, the avoidance of reality and as night fell, the kitchen beckoned. They folded into my arms, my youngest clutching my waist, my oldest resting her head on my shoulder.
In this place that was previously his domain for creating family dinners, we donned our aprons. Lights lowered, candles caressed the air, soft music brought calm to a day fraught with pain and tension. Shared knives and chopping boards—onions, sweet ripe peppers and tomatoes on the vine while peeling garlic, melting butter, with homegrown basil coating delicate shrimp. They talked. At first slow, faltering, questioning. The hurt spilling out with each word and I was somehow consoled that my blindsided pain matched theirs. The realization that the litany of 'we this' and 'we that' were the words of a man justifying himself and not a mutual decision brought me some comfort that this life had not been one of false pretenses.
Shoulders relaxed, their breathing more even, questions unfolded. Less pain, more need for answers, they took in each and every word. Wanting only truth, no sugar coating, their heads held higher and their gaze meeting mine as our eyes locked time and time again. My children safe in my affirmation to furnish them with the unvarnished truth whenever I could, my commitment earning trust in the weeks that followed.
Thus began a ritual, chopping and shredding, slicing and dicing foods and words, recipes and conversations—muddled together making sense of this new normal. The delicious sound of laughter brought moments I shall cherish as we created recipes while making plans for our journey.
Two years. Two years of lawyers and mediators. Finances depleted and two children dealt endless disappointments when promises made at that kitchen table fell quickly by the wayside for his new life. Who knew when he walked out of the door, that within a year he would also walk out of their lives … I wonder about the naked truth that cannot be hidden and the doubts harbored.
Still my life is blessed in spite of losing our home and starting afresh, that night in the kitchen, etched firmly in my heart. The tentative questions, encouraging them to use their words and share their feelings. Between rinsing, grating, baking and grilling—the preparation of that meal meant to lighten their hearts, in fact nourished their spirits. The youngest with her forgiving nature and the oldest with her logic, an epitome for black and white, right and wrong. I watch them grow into young women who sadly, have already had their hearts broken by their first true love.
An unfathomable end to a happy childhood, onto a new chapter.
Children need us to nourish their bodies.
They also need us to feed their souls.