Boiled Eggs and Sweet Peas

By Doris Ayyoub

‘What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods? –Barbara Kingsolver

I did and I still do love somebody who is no longer here and I have been “screaming into the woods” for seven months now. The “running off” part is not so apparent since I don’t run easily anymore. Rather, let’s just agree that I plain can’t “run.”

But my memories run the full gauntlet of all that I shared with my love. The smallest insignificant things send me off on another run and while I’m in the woods, the tears flow fearsome hot. Yesterday it was the mashed up boiled eggs with olive oil, yogurt and a bit of salt. I prepared it just as he did and ate it mixed with tears. While he lived, I never made that meal for myself. But if he discovered boiled eggs in the fridge, he would tinker in the kitchen, peeling the eggs oh so slowly, mashing them with a fork and adding the other ingredients until he had it just right. Then he’d come into our office, sit down in his chair and begin to scoop tiny bits of his bread into the mixture. When he finished eating, he would show me the bowl with pride so that I could notice how clean it was. No need to wash it? As I watched him eat, he would from time to time say, “Open your mouse!” He’d brush my hand away if I tried to reach for the morsel. The rule was that he must pop it into my mouth. How he’d grin if I exclaimed, “Ah, Ambrosia!”

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer…and everything collapses.” —Colette

The wild sweet peas that I struggled so hard to grow have once more taken off. Yesterday I saw three tiny, pink buds peeking through the tendrils that are creeping up to the top of the trellis. Wild sweet peas have always been our romance flower; they were the only blossoms available in that thistle-ridden back yard of our apartment rental during the third year of our marriage. I confess that in other years I shamelessly sent him into the brambles along the roadside to pick me a bouquet.

Sweet Peas usually bloom around the time of our anniversary, so those little budkins in my patio garden that I noticed this week are a month early. Indeed, as Colette predicted, tears slipped down the slope of my cheeks when I spotted them, though everything did not “collapse.” Amazingly, I usually do “behave” in public and get through most days quite well. It’s just that something like sweet peas or a boiled-egg lunch can catch me during solitary moments and I am never prepared. But I’m not dismayed over the tears. It just continually surprises me over what might set them off once more.

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