While I enjoy cooking and writing, I especially love the clients who come to my little Upper West Side office. In some way, every client comes to talk about food but you can’t talk about lunch without talking about life. One client, L, came to my office for the first time over 5 years ago. Her daughter had referred her. L was a quick study. She followed the plans we outlined but would dig her heels in where necessary. I remember some good debates “Lauren, I can lose weight without switching dried cranberries to fresh berries in my yogurt” and she did. We spent a lot of our time exchanging recipe ideas or I should say with me pulling out a notebook so that I could write down L’s recipes or tips.
We talked about cooking and children and travel and holidays. I was the “expert” but L would give me advice on my son’s music lessons (her daughter is a musician), what to order at a particular restaurant or just about anything. L was divorced but she met someone during the time she was working with me. She was generally cool and calm but when she eventually told me about her upcoming wedding she shifted a little in her seat and couldn’t contain her joy.
I lost touch with L a bit after she was married. After all, she was lean and in love but she did bring her new beau in for a consultation one time. I was just happy to meet “Mr. L” but have a hunch her physician husband didn’t modify his eating one iota after our session. I continued to keep tabs on L through her daughter. For a while everything was smooth sailing and then L’s daughter R mentioned she was having some tests done. It turned out L had cancer and was going to have surgery but nobody seemed overly alarmed. That was a couple of years ago. L persevered and continued to travel and live her life as though cancer or chemo was an annoying to-do list item, nothing more.
This past November, L came in to see me. The chemo she was on was taking its toll. Her energy and her appetite was low. I prepared myself knowing L might look ill or seem different but though she moved a little more slowly she was L. Like old times, we came up with a food plan this time to get her energy up as she was headed to Paris. The next day I received an email:
Thank you so much for taking the time to help me with chemo eating (if there is such a category). I’ve already put some of your suggestions into practice. Also, thanks for Jen Goodman’s blog
info. Looks like she’s endured far more than I have. I do hope that her treatments will work for her.
Hugs to you,
I can see so much of L in that email: action oriented, selfless and warm. That November visit was the last time I saw L. It’s still so hard for me to believe I attended her funeral last month. At the service, R summoned up the type of stoic strength I associated with her mother and spoke to the congregation about “the rules according to Mom”. The rules covered things big and small after all both are important. One of the more lighthearted rules which reminded me of my time with L was:
Purchase as many specialized kitchen appliances, tools and instruments as you are able.
Your kitchen is not complete without an apple corer and a potato ricer.
One of my sons has an apple many nights as a snack, I have a hard time every time I pull out that corer. L would say my kitchen is “not complete”; I’d love to hear her case for the ricer.
And the rule that reminded me of the rational, realistic and sage and brave L:
When freaking out ask yourself- what’s the worst that can happen?
There’s nothing so scary that you can’t talk about it.
Through R, L’s advice, good sense and humor live on. I miss you L and R misses you too.
In honor of L: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? What are your favorite kitchen appliances? Do you own an apple corer? And do you have any words for R? She’s having a very tough time.