After Kate died I had no shortage of help. Friends, family and neighbors offered moral support and play dates for the children. They came and walked the dog. Almost everyone brought food. But not just any food – great food. I’ve been inundated with homemade treats and really fancy treats.
There were great homemade cakes and biscuits. There was good wine and pink gin. There were breadsticks, chorizos, lasagne and biscuits. There was gourmet peanut butter with peppers. There were Belgian chocolates, chips and fish pies.
“I googled if there was a connection between grief and blue cheese. Of course not. But that didn’t stop people from arriving with condolences and bags of Stiltons, Cashel Blues and big chunks of Wicklow Blue Brie.
I haven’t cooked in weeks. The aftermath of a dying person involves plenty of Tupperware and baskets. It tastes like artisanal hummus and flaxseed crackers from high-end delicatessens. But there was one fancy food I couldn’t compete with: blue cheese.
Maybe it’s symbolic of how modern taste buds have changed, or maybe it’s a reference to my social circle, but every thoughtful gift basket, every grooming package, every visitor seemed to bring blue cheese. At one point I swam in that stuff.
About six weeks after Kate’s death, the refrigerator was stocked with about 50 pieces of blue cheese. I googled if there was a link between grief and blue cheese. Of course not. But that didn’t stop people from arriving with letters of condolence and food bags, which invariably contained Stiltons, Cashel Blues and bits of Wicklow Blue Brie.
I was grateful for every ounce of help and every morsel of food that people offered. And I really like blue cheese. I just couldn’t eat a mountain of this alone. It’s not something that a single person can get through quickly. The kids are no help. Let’s face it, kids aren’t known to appreciate moldy cheese. Mine are picky eaters at the best of times — one of them is now fueled solely by hot dogs and Cheerios. They accept melted cheddar and anything that passes for cheese on Apache and Domino pizzas. But that’s about it. blue cheese? Forget it.
Ironically, I could only have worked my way through all that blue cheese if Kate had been alive. She loved the stuff. In her hands, blue cheese would turn into a salad of pears and walnuts with honey, or with roasted red peppers and the darkest of balsamic vinegars. She would have produced some kind of chickpea burger or just crackers – and wine. Of course wine. She was a cheese pusher with oversized tastes. In her hands, a mild blue became the gateway drug to the harder, smellier stuff. She could have done with all that blue cheese. I had no hope.
So I did the only decent thing I could: I gave it a new gift. For about a month, all visiting well-wishers, friends, family and co-workers were greeted with appreciation and cheese.
“Thank you for your kind words. Please take this great Stilton home to remember Kate. She would have wanted you to have it,” I would say.
“Try the Bleuchatel and thanks for the bulk menu.”
“Yes, she was the best. It’s so surreal that she’s gone. Please eat some gorgonzola. Please?”
In support of the quality palliative care services at St Francis Hospice, Raheny and Blanchardstown see: sfh.ie/donate
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/a-widowers-diary-the-aftermath-of-someone-dying-involves-lots-of-tupperware-hampers-and-blue-cheese-42014733.html Diary of a widower: “After someone dies, there’s plenty of Tupperware, baskets — and blue cheese”