One of the most practical and physical ways people have supported us is by keeping us fed. At first this was done by family who were staying with us, preparing lunches and dinners many of which were never touched. It was checking we had at least had a drink that day (you can read about our relationship with tea during this period here!), or making lots of toast which is the quick fix we came to live by.
As time moved on and we were back to school and part time work lots of wonderful local people started to bring us meals – and it was just so helpful. To accommodate the outpouring of dishes we had to defrost the freezer and eventually started an online calendar so that we could avoid waste. It was a very useful and easy system we found called Meal Train, we could add our favourites or fussy eating needs and people could book in a day they would like to bring something. It was excellent, there are other similar things out there if you should ever need one for a family holiday, party or community event. It meant that we had healthy, easy meals to eat each day as well as a stash of things in the freezer, there is a clear element to why this was nice – feeling rubblish makes doing things like cooking for five people everyday hard.
What many people don’t know is that it really was never about the food, the nutrition or the convenience. We could manage all of that at a push. What those days and weeks of meals did was allow us to take a break from shopping for food – and that was the truly magical bit.
We meal plan, it was a big part of our Sundays to sit down over brunch and plan the meals and the food shop for the week, everyone got a say and a choice. It would be hard work but lots of fun too. Issac was a very fussy eater, the plan was severely skewed by his pallete and so every time we had to contemplate food shopping it would be a tsunami of memories and pain. By eating a meal someone else had provided, we could just eat – and not have to think, or plan or shop. Even now I find the weekly food shop, (which is still not back to normal as we work our way through the freezer meals) an extremely difficult and emotional task wracked with guilt. There are foods we now buy because he is gone, there are food we can no longer face because he isn’t here to enjoy them, there are things we deliberately buy to remember him… Sometimes food is nothing to do with food.
To everyone who dropped in an apple crumble, bought a hand cooked meal, paid for a pizza, film night packages, vouchers, our Friday Freebies, sweets for the kids, chocolate for Claire or meat for Mike and you creative lot overseas in Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda and the USA who managed to find ways to take our breath way – You did something amazing. You gave us not just food or treats to keep us going, but you gave us time and care and space. Sometimes food is love, it’s saying I’m thinking of you, it’s sharing between families, it’s solidarity, it’s care and we are so very, very grateful.