Friday, November 16, 2012

Just soup

My friend Rebecca emailed me Wednesday morning. A mutual friend of ours who not long ago went through a terrible trauma had, in the wake of everything else, come down with the flu, Rebecca said in the email. Was there any chance I could bring her some chicken soup?

Yes, I emailed back. Soup is something I know how to do. And I would be happy to do it.

Happy, in a way, combined with a sense of general insufficiency, was how I felt over the next couple of hours as I poached chicken parts, chopped carrots, washed celery, measured seasonings. Soup, I know how to do. And sometimes it seems soup is about all I know how to do. Well, not just soup. Casseroles. Baked pasta dishes. Meaty or vegetarian entrees. Sweets, to bring a little extra cheer.

Which seems like very little to offer sometimes. We’ve had such an unusual number of unexpected losses around us recently, and it seems all I ever do to help anyone is make soup or drop off a bag of groceries. I know so little about how to try to console people. I have so little to offer in terms of solace or emotional sustenance.

And so I make soup.

When my sisters and I were young, we used to read a classic picture book about a bunny who raised dozens of offspring. Each young bunny had a specific job to do in the bunny warren: washing clothes, polishing silver, mending, making beds. Two bunnies even had the “job” of singing and dancing to keep the rest entertained. Sometimes I feel as singularly capable as those bunnies. When things go wrong for people, all I ever seem to be able to do for them is bring dinner.

But yesterday, our friend had the flu and wanted chicken soup. It doesn’t solve anything else beyond what to have for dinner, not for her and not for any of the other people we know suffering losses. It’s one tiny trivial thing: one day, one meal. I wish I knew more about how to help people.
But for now, I’ll bring dinner over, just because I can.


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