Sunday, January 30, 2011

Death Lasagna

In our family, death and lasagna sometimes go hand-in-hand.

Lasagna is a time-consuming dish for me to make. The sauce takes most of a day and putting one together takes a little time, too. In fact, when I make lasagna, I usually make a couple at a time and keep them in the freezer. It is not unusual to find a lasagna (or two) in our freezer on any day

Our Family History
It was about 24 years ago when both of my in laws died. Immediately after their deaths and leading up to their funeral, everyone we knew was amazingly kind and concerned. We were inundated with so many offers of kindness, there was no way we could have accepted them all. In fact it was overwhelming. Though dealing with their deaths and funeral was the worst thing I have ever faced, at the time I had no idea how numb we were -- and needed to be -- to get through it.

As time went on, everyone around us began to forget. After three months, the numbness had worn off and the pain was unbearable -- again. Our friends had all moved on. At times we would get looks from people that seemed to say, "You mean, you aren't over that yet?"

One night still sticks out in my mind. My husband had come home and simply asked what was for dinner. I burst into tears -- the stress of deciding what to eat was more than I could handle. The simplest things were overwhelming, yet everyone expected that we would be "over it".

It wasn't until years later that I learned this is normal. As part of the grieving process, people tend to have a rough time three months, six months, nine months and a year after the death of a loved one. Why isn't this common knowledge?

10 Years Ago
A friend of ours died. It was sudden, he had no insurance and his wife was devastated. Because of his death being so unexpected, many of our friends offered help and support a little longer than is usual. Still, as is typical, it eventually tapered off.

I wrote the three-month anniversary of his death on our calendar and had planned to fix dinner for her. When the date rolled around, I was pretty busy at work and didn't have time to cook, but I did have a lasagna in the freezer. I grabbed the lasagna, bought a bag of salad and some Italian bread and dropped it off. "I thought you might not feel like cooking," I said. "Here is dinner." Her eyes teared up a little and she admitted the stress was bad and the food was appreciated.

After that, I started trying to make more of an effort to remember and offer our friends dinner about three months after a loved one had died. As it turned out, not only do I usually have a lasagna in the freezer, over the years I've discovered it is one of the best dishes I make and given a choice, most people would rather have my lasagna than other dishes I cook. Plus, if it is frozen there is no pressure to eat it within a set time period.

A couple of weeks ago I was making a big pot of sauce for lasagna. My goal was to make more than usual -- maybe six pans. I was pretty excited that the store had two packages of Glad plastic baking pans so I had enough pans for six.

When my daughter came home she asked, "Are you making 'death lasagna'?"

Then it hit me -- it is death lasagna! Though we usually eat lasagna the day I make several, it is not often that my family even gets to eat a frozen one. I almost always give them all away.

And this is why I should buy stock in Glad.

Right before I made that big batch of lasagna, two co-workers lost parents. About a week after making them, one friend lost her mom, then the next day her husband lost his mom! It's been a pretty rough couple of months for parents!

There are a couple of reasons why I use the Glad plastic baking pans. 1) They can be frozen and go into the oven. 2) If they are not returned, it just doesn't matter. When you are too stressed to cook, the last thing you want is the responsibility to return someone's favorite baking dish. Actually, I discovered the Glad pans after losing three different Pyrex dishes. Yeah, the Glad pans are a little cheaper and easier to replace.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I'm 50 -- Now What?

It was my original intent to end this blog on my 50th birthday. After all, the entire point was to fret and stew about turning 50 -- once you've passed the landmark, what is the point?

Well, several people have asked me what I plan to do, and I just could not figure out a great to end this. One friend so enjoys this blog as her best connection to me, I thought maybe I'll keep it going.

So, one of my goals on my 50th birthday was to do 50 new things before December 13 this year. Now that I'm "old", my life has become somewhat stagnant and I need to do something to add in a little excitement and some new challenges. 50 new things seems like a great way to do that. Before deciding that I would blog about those 50 things, I have already completed three. One will be a blog post in a few days -- the others will just make my final list.

Since 50 blog posts in a year is not a lot, I'm sure I will just feel the need to write about something or to vent, and this will be the venue.

So thank you to everyone who has helped me make it to my halfway point! Thank you to everyone who made it to my birthday party. And if you have any ideas for somethine for me to try this year, let me know!