Comfort Food

The days have dragged by, each seeming longer than
the one before. Even the passage of time has lost
its meaning, days dissolving into nights. She can
hardly keep awake, but she wants to stay at any cost.

For four interminable days, she has lived in the
intensive care waiting room at this hospital far from
her country home. Her brother’s heart might be
too badly damaged, but today finally they receive some

encouraging news - his blood pressure has stabilized.
Now hope dispels the dark clouds of despair overhead.
A cousin insists she come to her house overnight. Otherwise
she herself might collapse. “I don’t want it ever to be said

I left my brother’s side.” But, when her mother insists, she goes.
A shower - marvelous! Before going to bed, have you any breakfast
request? “Oatmeal! Last year Mother made a potful every day so’s
all the family gathered at the house during Daddy’s dying last

few weeks could sit around the kitchen table any time of day
and reminisce and eat. We came to consider oatmeal as family
‘comfort food’. I’d love some oatmeal!” The next day,
after ten hours of sleep, she consumes three bowls handily.

Refreshed and clean, arriving back at the hospital she finds
her brother had a bad night, his heart had stopped repeatedly.
He dies that morning….Her next week is a blur, with all kinds
of details to arrange, then the funeral, the grief, and incredibly

a business trip that she can’t avoid or reschedule comes only two
days after the funeral. Afterwards, arriving home holds little appeal.
With no distractions, she feels the loss of her brother as only sisters do.
At her front door sits an UPS package. Exhausted, depressed…still
she opens it. Tears fill her eyes. Her cousin sent ten pounds of oatmeal.

Harry Edward Gilleland      08.08.02