Father’s Day marks one month since my dad has been gone. In my entire life, that one month is the longest we’ve ever gone without talking. A streak that will only be added to as the days tick by.
I have been afraid to write about my loss for the past month, fearful that unpacking its freshness onto a page as I sat and stewed in my thoughts and memories, I would be swallowed up entirely with its permanence and its size. Surprisingly, it feels good to write it down, now that I’ve finally worked up the courage to do so. I will continue to sit, to stew, to grieve, to remember; in hopes that time eventually grant me perspective and insight, alongside pain.
The food that is normally packed with flavours and bursting with inspiration from something I’ve read or seen, has been painstakingly basic, uninspired, often bland or one note. Certainly nothing to write about. I had never thought about what sorrow tastes like, but perhaps it is just that- lacking and flat. Cooking for Dad, however, was one of my greatest pleasures whenever I came to visit him, or he I. It was a vehicle through which I could give back the tiniest bit of comfort or steadfast love, in attempt to return the surplus he had given me. Nothing made me happier when he would turn to me at the table after trying whatever I had made and say, “This is really good, A. You can make this again.” That was his version of a home run, and after thirty-seven years with it, I knew exactly how to read the signs. Once in a fit of nervous ‘I’ve-got-two-hours-and-need-to-be-busy’ before leaving for the airport I raided my mom’s cupboards and made him a Beef and Lime Chilli that he would come to request for years to come. Truth is, I have no idea how exactly I made it, it was an itch to cook something that needed scratching, so in a frenzy of busy hands I used whatever ingredients were there to fulfill the need, hoping the end result would leave something delicious behind for him to enjoy after I had left. I am thankful that it worked, even if I could never repeat the exact recipe.
When Dad and Mom came to visit us in our flat in Southwest London, I spent hours in our tiny kitchen making Beef Bourguignon for what I hoped would be the perfect first meal of the trip. It was – Dad practically licked the plate clean. It made up slightly for the fact that the airline lost his luggage.
When our oldest turned one and he and Mom came for a visit I made what was to be their first ever Sunday Roast; Slow Roasted Lamb Leg with Membrillo and Black Olives. Mom made a kugel. We opened up the table as wide as it could go, taking up practically the entire living room of our flat, thoughtfully laid the table, and then lingered around it until every bit had been eaten – that’s his “not bad” face, which I knew meant he was impressed.
There is no ultimate Chocolate Milk shake to come in this article, like the title might suggest. I sadly cannot eat ice cream much anymore, and I have spent the last month eating more for fuel, rather than for pleasure, which isn’t really like me at all. But. I am no fool, and I know one day the switch will flip and I will feel and want differently. Celebration will replace, or at least layer over sorrow. And at that time, I will gladly pour all of my effort and love into concocting what, especially towards the end, was one of my dad’s most loved comforts; a chocolate milkshake. When I do it will I will share it here with pleasure, happy to cook for someone else with joy once again, in hopes that it makes someone feel love and support and comfort. Like that which I cooked for Dad. Like that which he gave to me.