Last night I made dinner and I had people over and we ate at the dining room table. Do you understand how monumental this is for me? Let me break it down.
The dining room
My gorgeous, hand made from Ohio reclaimed wood, dining room table has been the holding ground for everything for the last few pandemic years. It’s almost comical the random things its held from potting soil to adult diapers, my great aunt’s china to trivial pursuit. I’ve been so isolated throughout the pandemic that the dining room, and its need for dinner parties, was rendered moot. With my wonky immune system the risk outweighed the benefit hence extreme caution and isolation.
I grew up eating dinner with my family, at our kitchen or dining room table and discussing our day as we came together. Sitting down to a home cooked meal is sacred and holds both nostalgia and purpose for me.
Last night, my dining room table was cleared off and my sister and nephew brought me a bouquet of pumpkins for the table. The gold placemats came out. The table set. It was ready.
Cooking looks different
I can’t stand for long periods of time. I can’t pivot and maneuver the kitchen. I use my Rollz Motion rollator to lean on, to carry heavy pans and to sit and rest as needed. But what I can do is break up the cooking process into stages throughout the day. I used to go to Starbucks when I worked at the office, now I take mental health breaks by chopping an onion or browning sausage.
I will set all items on the counter at one point. I’ll come back later to chop and store. Finally, I’ll cook. The end result is the same.
I’m still frustrated because I obviously want to be able to cook like I used to, stand for long periods of time, pivot on a dime. But the truth of it is, this is another milestone and it should be celebrated. I’ve always loved cooking, eating, coming together over food and personally, it’s just not the same with Door Dash. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not disparaging Door Dash. They saved me many a night!)
Cooking is an assertion of my independence and a return to me.
Fall is in the air in Cleveland and the trees are turning vibrant hues. Although yesterday, quite unexpectedly, it hit 74 degrees. Despite the warm temperature, I made a favorite fall meal: sausage and apple stuffed acorn squash. My mother further enhanced our fall vibe by making a homemade apple crisp with apples picked by my sister the previous weekend.
A return of normal moments
Life looks nothing like I imagined it would and this year has rendered it unrecognizable to when I began this journey in February. But slowly, I’m finding and enjoying the small moments again. My mantra through recovery is to gauge progress week over week rather than day by day. My amazing transplant nurse shared that pearl of wisdom with me and has reiterated it on several occasions. Look how far I’ve come in little more than 100 days!
Laughter and conversation with my loved ones around my very own dinner table eating a meal I prepared was good for my heart and soul and I did more than 6200 steps to get there.