It seems appropriate to be writing this tonight after eating beef Tacos with salsa and chilli sauce, it’s only the second time I have eaten that firm favourite in the last five years. Even though it’s super spicy and very tasty, I still don’t really enjoy it. Why?…….. Because it was one of Seth’s special dishes and he isn’t here to enjoy it with me. So how could I possibly enjoy eating it ?
A couple of weeks ago I did some filming for a Hospice UK for an initiative called A Taste of Home, it’s a fundraising campaign to get people to invite friends and family to a meal that symbolises a Taste of Home for them. The campaign got me thinking about food, memories, Seth and associations.
When Seth was told he was dying, he was alone and it was left to him to share the dreadful news with me. When Seth told me, I felt physically sick and when I left the hospital a few hours later, dazed, frightened and in shock, I went home and I was physically sick.
Not a single piece of food touched my lips for days, it was a least a couple of days before I could even face a cup of tea. I survived and barely functioned on just sips of water. It was as if my body was objecting loudly and very physically to the unbelievable devastating and almost inconceivable news, that Seth was dying.
Whilst Seth was in the hospital he craved Orangina to drink. I made so many trips to so many supermarkets, but with no joy. Each defeat would leave me in tears because the one thing I so wanted to find to please Seth, I was unable to find.
Then a breakthrough I found Orangina and purchased it. So, pleased with my success, but so too did my Auntie Margaret and Seth’s sister in law. We had so much Orangina we didn’t know what to do with it…. when Seth died there were still bottles of it unused, not consumed, unopened.
Hope and despair combined together in one bottle.
A visible and real reminder of Seth’s demise; I haven’t drunk Orangina since.
Whilst Seth was ill in hospital I would take him the food that he loved pasta, shepherd’s pie, Bolognese, ice lollies, watermelon, but when the food was offered he just didn’t want it. Nothing was appealing and as time ticked away so very loudly; food became less important and eventually became a burden.
Food represents life and life was running short… for Seth and for me…..because it felt like my life was over, without Seth there was no life, no life that I wanted to live.
When I went on holiday in December to Turkey there was a large display of luscious red watermelon I couldn’t sit in the restaurant and look at it. So, every morning I would sit at a table where it wasn’t in view, hiding from the vivid reminder, that took me back to room 24 in the hospital and that desperate place supporting Seth towards his untimely death.
On the day of the filming we were located at law offices in the centre of London, the law firm let Hospice UK use their facilities free of charge and there are always lovely drinks and goodies supplied for free. Not for the first time synchronicity prevailed, as one of the many treats were small packets of Jelly Belly Beans. These were Seth’s absolute favourite sweets; he loved them. Every Christmas I would buy him a big tub and he would revel in combining flavours and colours to find the best combination. Now each year at Christmas I avoid the shops as I can’t bear the sight of Jelly Belly Beans.
In the interview about a Taste of Home, I talked about Jelly Belly Beans and chicken. Seth loved chicken, roasted, in fajitas, in curry, as Kiev’s, stew, sliced on sandwiches, wrapped in bacon and cheese, wings, legs, thighs or breast, all kinds of chicken. Since Seth died I haven’t really eaten much chicken, it just doesn’t taste the same and something that used make me happy now makes me sad.
Seth had wanted to die at home, but circumstances and a system that didn’t respond to our needs meant that Seth died in the hospital. For the last four and half years that has been a source of regret and pain for me and part of what has driven me to create and develop Seth’s legacy
As I spoke in the interview, I found myself saying that as death approaches home is no longer a physical place, home is a feeling, it is a feeling of safety and love.
Seth wanted to die at home but I couldn’t make that happen for him. Last week I came to the realisation that he was home when he died, because he died with me close beside him in a safe place and most definitely in the warm embrace of our reciprocal love…. In a feeling but not a taste of home.