Four types of stir-fry.
A whole roasted chicken.
Chicken stock from the roasted chicken parts.
Chicken and dumplings.
That's what I cooked this week.
You see, my grandmother died ten days ago. My twin sister got married two days after that. It was a beautiful wedding. She was surrounded by people she loved, and that means I was, too. I ate a lot of amazing food. I was so lucky to have already been in the US on the day my grandmother died unexpectedly. I'm not religious so I call it luck, but I'm OK if others call it a blessing, or others still call it logical, like that my Nanny knew everything and everyone was in place, that her husband's ashes had finally reached their final resting place back in England the month before and she was ready to move on.
I tried to do the math of the chances that I would be in the US when she passed away, but who can calculate those kinds of things? Who knows the probability of someone's death if they are only old and with a relatively weak heart? Who can think about that too much about someone they love?
Two days after the wedding (which were spent in Las Vegas with said loved ones), I made the 20-hour door-to-door trip back to Brazil. I took an extra four days off work to give myself time to process what happened. Many of you know that my grandparents largely raised my sister and me. I feel so, so grateful for them. It's a gratitude that is adequately expressed only through the words "thank you" repeated through sobs until I am fatigued, or through being patient and generous with others the way my grandparents were with me, and, this week, through cooking my grandmother's recipes in her 1979 slow cooker. I lugged that thing back with me as a carry-on because I didn't trust the airlines to give it the care it deserved. She kept it in immaculate condition, and that means I will, too.
My first days back, I was eager to eat well after the havoc I'd wreaked upon my body in the US with the fast food and alcohol and late-night spicy carne asada quesadillas. Also, cooking was pretty much the only thing I had energy for. So I cooked, and cooked, and cooked some more.
When I started to "come down" from that (i.e., tire of washing dishes), and when my new reality started to sink in, my eagerness waned. I didn't want to be awake in a world that my Nanny wasn't in anymore. So I slept, and slept, and slept some more. And then I kept myself up at night with torturous thoughts and Google searches on arrhythmia and arterial fibrillation, and trying to comfort myself with the new-found knowledge that sudden cardiac death usually takes only 90 seconds to 5 minutes at most. I woke up the doctor husfriend a couple of times. "Do you think she woke up from a loss of breath, or was it more like sleeping but conscious and then suddenly unconscious?" He hugged me and told me "she didn't suffer" until I could fall asleep.
Today I slept in until noon. I woke up because Alexandre called me from work to see if I'd woken up. It was a beautiful day outside and I could see it shining in under the bedroom door. My cat was cuddling with me patiently.
I said, out loud, to Gatinha but also to myself, "OK. We're going to do four things today, now. We're going to get out of bed. I'm going to do the dishes. I'm going to take out the trash, and I'm going to take a shower. If those things are tiring and we need a break, that's OK. But if those things give us some momentum to do more, that's OK, too." Gatinha was cool with it. She ate some breakfast, lay in the sun shining in on the dining room floor, and even enticed me to play with her a little.
Those things did build up some momentum. I worked on a translation, and I read a book on the balcony in the sun, and didn't go back to bed.
I'm in a new place now: one where I can't call my Nanny to ask her again how to correctly use flour to make thicker stew broth, and one where she doesn't call me to ask me sincerely how my life is going and to be willing to hear any kind of answer. I'm pushing myself to get used to it, slowly.
|when I taught my grandma how to make Brazilian coxinhas|
|us and my Nanny, with the clothes she made us. I'm on the right.|