May 06, 2016 at 07:06 PM

A Special Dinner

By Sarah House

Maria, 40 years old, was the youngest child of a strong Catholic family who had raised their six children in the Santa Barbara area. Mom and Dad, now in their seventies, and all six children along with various spouses and children were devastated to find out that Aunt Maria had a large and growing brain tumor. She would not be able to pursue her second career in soil studies as she had dreamed.

Maria held on bravely, doing exercises that no longer helped her to regain her strength. One night she grabbed a lamp from her bedside table and teased that she was working on her biceps by raising the still lit lamp far over her—up and down like a barbell.

Three nights before she died, Maria wrote up a menu for a special meal for her and her long-time beau. Because she was a bit delirious on pain medication, her mom thought it fanciful but insignificant.

We however, following our principle that “you can’t go to Von’s too many times in one day” bought each and every ingredient on her list: two New York Strip steaks (one rare, one medium), fresh green beans, creamy mashed potatoes with real butter, and a Caesar salad.

There were two trays, one for Maria and the other for Mark. Also candles and flowers. And lots of love—both in the preparation of the special meal and the eating of it, too.

Once again, it was a reminder of the parallel between birth and death. We thought about the new moms and dads having a candlelight meal in the nursery after the birth of their newborn. This was another kind of dinner, in a hospice and around another big event, no less precious.

Posted in Resident Stories.


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