I had been up a while and struggling to write this past Saturday morning when I realized that I felt hungry. I set aside my laptop and shuffled downstairs without a clue as to what I might find to eat.
I felt as dry as a desert. I had realized on Friday that grief is not all tears and sadness. Grief can be numbness, a painful numbness. In that numbness, things that ought to move you do not. It is as if you are looking in on life but not living it. You are walking but dead.
You don’t feel guilty about it though you may think you should. (Isn’t there an obligation to feel something following the death of the love of your life?) You don’t feel ashamed that you don’t feel guilty. You don’t feel cold and indifferent even though you are.
I felt hungry, that I needed to eat but, really, whether I ate was neither here nor there.
I opened the refrigerator, looked around a second or two, and then saw the gray and green container of eggs. I had forgotten that I had Instacarted some eggs.
I took them from the refrigerator and shuffled over to the kitchen counter. I poured another cup of coffee and stood there a second as I contemplated what I would do with them.
“Ah, just scramble them.’
I put things in place: eggs, salt, pepper. I shuffled back to the fridge to get some grated cheese. I also took some lemon juice.
I shuffled back to the counter, opened the middle bottom cabinet and retrieved my favorite mixing bowl. (I found it in a thrift shop. It’s an aluminum bowl with a sordid history. A previous owner had shot it several times with a BB gun.)
I cracked the egg on the counter with my right hand, quickly lifted it over the bowl, and let the contents ooze into the bowl. Then I repeated that action with another egg. I added a few drops of lemon juice, grabbed a fork, and whisked away.
That’s when I hurt myself.
I remembered those every-Saturdays when I cooked up eggs for the two of us. I had gotten into experimenting with eggs on the promise of Chef Michael Ruhlman that if you learn all the ways to cook an egg you will have learned all the ways to cook anything. I saw myself preparing some egg dish and carrying it to Linda. I saw us eating together. And, I remembered her trying my new concoction and hearing her say, “You know…scrambled is fine.”
It was a standing joke.
Truth be told, some of my creations fell flat. A well-seasoned meringue is a peculiar thing to eat on a Saturday morning. “What did you eat for breakfast today?” “Oh, a very nice spinach and foam dish I cooked up.”
I felt the corner of my lips move toward a faint smile as I ran that film in my mind. The filtered edges of the image. Bluebirds and butterflies lighting on our shoulders as we laughed and talked in slow motion to the sound of a Kenny G soundtrack.
I felt myself sinking into the movie that I ran in my mind.
But then, a dull but glowing ache.
I felt it but couldn’t localize it. It wasn’t in my head or my hands or in any of my joints. It felt as if it was everywhere and nowhere at once, as if it were not in my body but floating around me just above the surface of my skin.
It was the pain of yearning.
I put my hands on the kitchen counter, bowed my head over that wounded bowl, and heard myself yelp before the flood of tears.
On Sunday morning, I told my little community that I had turned the corner from the disbelief that Linda had died to something else. I was falling, falling, falling into a deep pit of sadness.
It started with those eggs and that stupid sentimental film.