Today, for the first time since Leah died, I cooked one of my favourite dishes – chilli noodles. I’ve cooked for others many times since Leah died but NEVER specifically for myself.
The day that Leah went on the ventilator was the day that food ceased to hold any pleasure for me and became merely a means of survival.
At times since then I have struggled to even swallow. Bowls of cereal, or bread and cheese, became my staple diet for many months.
I knew from what the ICU doctors told me, and from my own research, that once Leah became ill enough to require ventilation, that only divine intervention would guarantee her survival.
The consultant looking after Leah that day upset me further by the tactless manner in which he spoke to me. One of the nurses told me at the time that he’s usually very nice, but that he had been very uptight because he was worried that Leah was going to die – was that supposed to make me feel better?
Lung complications post transplant can be very difficult to treat, over a six day period Leah’s lungs had not responded to any of the treatments that had been tried – her condition just kept getting worse and we just kept praying and holding onto hope. I wrote about the day that Leah went on the ventilator here.
I noticed that once I returned to work in September I found eating a little easier – a bit of distraction probably and having another focus. Around October time I eventually stopped losing weight.
Yesterday in Cosmo which is a buffet style “eat all you want” kind of place, I noticed as I sampled the various Chinese and Indian foods, that my taste buds seemed to “wake up”. I started to recall what it felt like to actually enjoy eating.
On the way home from Belfast I pondered the fact that it was now almost 12 months since I had cooked the very spicy, chilli vegetable dishes that I once loved. Thankfully I still have chilli’s in the freezer, leftover from the time before Leah died, when I consumed an average of a chilli per day.
It must be reassuring for my kids to see me doing some of the things that were once “normal” for me. My eldest and my youngest have inherited some of my food preferences so they each tucked into a bowl of spicy noodles today too.
Strange the many and different ways in which trauma and grief can affect us.
Today one of Leah’s friends sent me a link to a beautiful song called ‘I Believe’ by Chris August. I had never heard it before and the words are lovely.