Slowly backing my car out of the unfamiliar driveway, I watched my friend shuffle for her keys and lead her two young girls into the house they were staying in while visiting from out of town. As I drove away, tears began to well up inside me as I thought of my friend carrying on with her life after suddenly losing her husband just two months prior.
It is so cliché to come away from that scene and think that I will live my life differently, as her tragedy was a reminder of life’s frailty. Driving the ten blocks back to my house, I imagined myself collapsing into my husband’s arms, shaking from tears and trying to squeeze out the words, “I love you.” But by the time I got home my mind was already focused on tomorrow’s activities and all that needs to be done in and around my home. I said a quick hello to my husband and then set about my to-do list.
Our days are so filled with activities: lists of things that need done, children to care for, a home to clean, businesses to tend to, etc. It’s too easy to forget that at any moment it could all be gone.
For me, food has the ability to gently remind me of life’s gift—that this place is temporary and we are just passing through. Often when we eat, we have a moment to press “pause” on our day. I hope that perhaps we can press “pause” for a bit longer.
On the days when meals become another thing to simply cross off the to-do list, I try to remind myself that, as with life, food is a gift. Taking a few moments to slice fresh tomatoes and to top them with goat cheese, basil and olive oil, provides me the soft, sweet reminder that this day deserves to feel special. Each day deserves to be special.
Food is used to aid in celebrations, to welcome life, honor unions, and mark traditions. When an ordinary day is marked with a meal that feels somewhat out of the ordinary, then suddenly I am reminded that each day is a gift and there is no reason for it to feel like every other day. Life is far too short.
by Ashley Rodriguez
Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. Read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com