It’s been almost exactly a month since my last post. Until then, things were humming along with quite a bit of momentum, full of the minutiae of daily life: cooking projects, children’s birthday parties, and posts. That all suddenly changed on March 16th when we brought my husband to the emergency room. We were suspecting a bad case of the stomach flu, but the reality was much worse: septic shock and multiple organ failure. On Thursday night we were out to dinner. On Saturday night he was on life support. After 17 days in the hospital, 12 in the ICU, he is home now and on the road to a full recovery.
While we still haven’t gotten our heads around all of this, coming so close to a devastating loss has most certainly had a profound effect on our lives. In less than 24 hours, all of the ideas that usually fill my head (fermenting mushrooms, making laundry detergent, composting) were crowded out by things like vasopressors, ventilators and dialysis. Although there is nothing like a medical crisis to make you miss the monotony of the life you had before (imperfections and all), the idea of writing about things domestic seemed utterly absurd and insignificant in the face of all of this. The minute we stepped into the ER, everything domestic about our lives was sucked away. Being at home was only a stopping point, to sleep for a few hours, eat something, shower. I couldn’t so much as make a cup of coffee. My plants mostly died.
But when I wasn’t able to function on the domestic front, something quite extraordinary happened: our family and community filled in the blanks. Our children were cared for by neighbors and relatives, people sent groceries, and cards and fruit baskets. Laundry was done. By the second day of the hospital vigil, our daughter’s class and our synagogue had organized food deliveries using Take Them A Meal, a genius website that takes the confusion out of organizing meal deliveries by allowing you to sign up online. They also have recipes and tips for helping people in need and will even deliver a meal for you, if you can’t make one yourself. Over the past four weeks, dinner has appeared without our having to think about it. Such an astonishing array of meals, in fact, that my sister joked that she was going to start a blog just to document our crisis dining. There were days where it almost seemed unfair to be eating so well when my husband couldn’t eat at all.
But now he can! And he is catching up for good measure. As we emerge toward normalcy, we are left with this giant debt of gratitude for everyone around us who sustained us through all of this. Having never been on this end of such an equation before, it leaves us wanting to give back somehow, or to at least pay it forward, and I am sure this experience will make its way into my posts for some time to come as I try to distill what is really important in the wake of all of this. While thinking and writing about things like making almond butter, or whether or not you can really recycle Tetrapaks still strikes me as somewhat prosaic, I have a renewed energy and appreciation for exactly that: focusing on the basic pleasures of daily life at home. This weekend, I will finally open my Bokashi bin, mix up some laundry detergent, and maybe even make a little nutella. And it will give me no greater pleasure than to wake up early, make coffee, and sit down at my computer to tell you all about it.