I would like more sisters, that the taking out of one, might not leave such stillness.
After more than a year’s worth of Simmer, I’ve concluded that blogging is much like phoning your family. Some days an outburst and others, just “Everything okay? Bye.” For example, I was going to tell you about the pumpkin dog biscuits I baked for Cleo, but…I know. We talked about Cleo yesterday. Or what Greg, um, had for lunch, or how Jean made me laugh – oh dear, did I mention her the other day? You get the picture. Purposeless blogging is a lot like aimless talking, a lot like that check-in call with your mom, your friends, your sister.
Whether you love or dread those calls isn’t the point; the point is there’s always someone on the other end you can trust, and with whom you love to be aimless. After moving from Chicago to Kansas, my sister and I would talk – quite literally – all day. At the time, she was fighting cancer and I was nursing a newborn. Like long distance chain-smokers, we’d hang up one call and minutes later, start another. She forgot to say this, I forgot to tell her that. We lost Iris when she was 26. Twelve years later I wake up, still think our dual catty thoughts, and reach for the phone.
I used to tell my father, struggling for calm, that now she was a gift, the best parts left to carry, a gift like a warm stone in your pocket. Eventually he accepted that, and I believed it; but anyone with loss knows that gift comes chained to your core. And my, does it drag around. Still – if there is grace to be saved in losing a sister, it’s the wonder in finding women so attuned to your loss, so keen to your rudderless state that, with shocking kindness and intuition, they offer themselves as your own. We can never replace our sisters; but what comfort, what faith lies in knowing that a sisterhood can, and will, find you.
Though I did nothing to deserve it, sisterly gifts found me: friends, cousins, aunts, artists, bloggers, writers and cooks have all lightened that weight in coffee shops, on the page, in their kitchens, in my kitchen. Recently the dear, talented geniuses of The Sister Project generously hosted my small – but vital – sister story, and you can read it here.
I haven’t yet shared this on the blog, these bits from the wings, because it was my desire to keep Simmer a relatively joyful, delicious place. But I’m deeply gratified – and surprised – by reactions at The Sister Project, from both those who want to know and those who know too well. I shouldn’t be, but am, surprised at the welling, gut feelings on loss. I’m not at all surprised to find a sisterhood willing to share.
Or maybe we haven’t discussed this yet because, you know, one needs to save stories for all those daily calls. I mean, posts. Thank you, gentle readers, for being an enormous set of friendly ears, every day. And now – be you sister, mother, friend, or even a smart sensitive guy, get yourself over to the brilliant Sister Project, and poke around; there is family, there is food, there are stories, and if you look long enough, you’ll find treasure in every corner.
* Oh, I’m sorry, is this blog supposed to be about food? Okay. We come from a food-obsessed family, so no better way to honor my sister than by exposing her secret snacks of shame (which weren’t so secret): Butternut bread slices fried in butter, spread with jam; tossing late-night spaghetti carbonara; drinking Hershey’s Syrup from the bottle, mixing pretzels into peanut butter and – my favorite – eating Lipton Sweet Iced Tea mix with a spoon. You know, it’s not half bad.