Sunday, March 7, 2010

Home Table, Hospital Table

March 1
Hospital Food
We have been in the hospital for most of February, and the beginning of March. Time drags and inevitably the days pass. Time here is marked by doctors’ rounds, medication schedule, and trays of highly processed room temperature food. The food is industrial, much of it arrives in plastic containers with foil, peel back lids.

Craig and I were relieved when we decided on the doctors in New York City, in part because of the food here. We can compensate, easily, brilliantly, for all that the hospital food lacks. We can ease the sadness and exhaustion of time here at the hospital with bowls of Pho in Chinatown. When Colby starts seizing, we know where to get the black beans and rice that she will always eat, no matter how bad she is feeling. And if we can saddle the kids onto our friends and family for an evening, we know a long dinner at Il Buco will help us connect with each other again, our romantic place that through the beautiful food and environment expands your hearts and focuses our attention. We know that no matter how unsettled two-year-old Coral feels, she will eat a plate of fried eggs from Shopsin’s.

Even on the nights we do have our family picnic dinners at the hospital, it is not anywhere near the conviviality of the table. In the curtained room we celebrate the moment, try to bring some normalcy and beauty in to a very stressful environment, but mostly we are compensating. Compensating for how divided we are physically, and how far we are from our regular, simple, wonderful routines of home, table, and community.

Here we are enduring. Enduring is hard. Enduring is tiredness and sadness and having to keep working, keep caring, keep loving. The food traditions of New York City help us to endure. But nothing compares to lighting the candles, putting your own cloth napkin on your lap and saying, “Cheers,” in the warm comfort of your home, around your table. Here we give thanks for the white containers of La Esquina rice and beans that make Colby shriek with delight, but we yearn for home.

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