“Normal things make you feel normal,” my Mom said that to me in the middle of a panic attack one night. I was in Boston, she was home. We were connected through a hundred miles by a phone line.  ” ‘Normal things make you feel normal’, Gram said that to me once in the middle of the only panic attack I think I ever had”.

Dinner. Pull out all the stuff, work like the French chefs do. Mise en place. Everything in its place. Pretend that everything isn’t out-of-place.

“It was when we all first moved in there.  and your Gram, said, Normal things make you feel normal”

Dice carrots, slice celery, chop onions, smash garlic, notice your knife skills look like you trained in Hyde Park not as a prep cook at an OG. Pretend that it doesn’t feel like a knife is digging its way into your heart.

“It was hard to move into their house, your Papa and me, because the house wouldn’t be ready till fall. Papa and me and you and Corey, all moving in with Grampa and Gram.  And your father was so stressed about the house, and your Grandfather – well you know. . . it was his house . . .”

Boil the water for the Matzoh balls, which you have never made.  But you try any walk of comfort food this week. Pretend that food can comfort through all this.

“But you know your Gram, she welcomed us all there, and when I was panicking, about making sure we were all fitting into the house, she just said, ‘normal things make us feel normal Carol. Wash some dishes, fold some laundry, just do.’ ”

Set out the plates for the boys, poor drinks for the grown-ups.  Grill asparagus, because it makes you believe in spring. Pretend you can ‘just do’ when so many in the family can be there to say goodbye to Gram – but not Pops.  Wish you had faith as strong as your grandparents.

“So sweetie pea, wash the dishes, cook some food, Gram said ‘normal things make you feel normal – and she knows a thing or two about anxiety’.

Put on the radio, sit down to dinner, serve food. Watch your boys eat. Love your family, breathe in the air from outside that tastes almost like spring, strive to almost feel  . . .


4 responses »

  1. Nice piece. Normal changes throughout our lives, especially when we lose someone we love.

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