Quick note: this post is too poignant for the usual meandering introduction, and by now you all know how awesome Jan Bono is, so let's just get to it this time.--Crabby
Sunday, April 26th, 2015, two beautifully decorated half-sheet cakes sat waiting to be cut on the reception table. One was a white cake with raspberry filling and the other was a chocolate cake with chocolate mousse inside. Both had plenty of buttercream icing.
I knew everything about those two cakes except how they tasted. I’m the one who had drawn the designs, gone to the bakery, ordered my love’s two favorite cakes, and convinced the gal to give me both the senior and military discounts.
Rick and I were “FFs”—“Forever Fiancés.” We chose that designation to allow me unrestricted access to his medical records and doctor visits, but not being “legally married,” would protect me from being responsible for the balance of his significant hospitalization bills when he died.
As fate would have it, we were together exactly five years to the day, from our first in-person to the day I gave the eulogy at his memorial service. And yes, we both knew right from the start how our relationship would end. Rick was already a long-term survivor of CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) when I met him.
We had three fabulous years filled with travel, laughter, and fun.
Followed by two years of lengthy hospital stays, numerous surgeries, and his constant declining health. The last nine months I spent most of my time sitting by his hospital bed, just holding his hand. He often looked at me and shook his head. “You didn’t sign up for this,” he’d say. And I always answered, “Actually, I think I did.” And then we’d smile through our tears.
So what does any of this have to do with “Cranky Fitness,” my weight, my food plan, or those two cakes sitting on his memorial reception table?
(Geez, do you really have to ask?)
All that day I tried to convince myself that one small piece of each of those cakes wouldn’t kill me, and that I somehow owed that much to Rick’s memory. But in my heart of hearts, I knew that “sugar won’t fix it,” and for me, one bite leads to another and another and another until I’m completely out of control.
Back in the day, I most certainly would have used the debilitating grief as an excuse to abandon my healthy food plan. A virtual “Queen of Rationalization,” I’d have tried to tell myself that I’d get right back on track the next day, and that I needed the sugar rush to help me cope with the pain. After all, there was a hole in my heart you could drive a truck through, and surely I could indulge “just this once.”
Standing there in front of the reception table, my first impulse was to call for a bigger plate and pile on several pieces of each cake—particularly the pieces sporting the most frosting. Instead, I called upon Rick’s unwavering support and strength one more time.
Rick and I had often talked about how there is no “comfort” in eating yourself sick, and the fact that there was no problem that overeating couldn’t make worse. He’d called me his rock, I called him my anchor, and we’d faced our challenges together for five years. I pictured him giving me the “thumb’s up” as I declined the proffered cake.
I smiled at the server, took a big breath, and said, “I’ll have some later.” Then I filled a cup with decaf coffee, and continued working my way around the room, sharing fond memories with friends.
Later, I did put one small piece of each cake, without any frosting, on a plate to take home, and incorporated it into my “legal” food plan. The leftovers were divvied up and sent home with Rick’s grandkids.
I honored Rick, and I honored myself, and I know he would have been as proud of me as I am proud of myself. Ooh-Rah, Rick. Semper Fi!