The Morning That Almost Wasn’t

22 Jan

Yesterday was what I would call a plot twisty day. One of my favorite quotes is that when something goes wrong in your day, you yell “Plot twist!” and move on. Yesterday was full of those moments. While I was running the Swiffer like I do every day to keep up with the dog hair, I found a packet my son was supposed to turn in. He is struggling in that particular class and I had to go to school at some point to pick up some volunteer work, so I left my home much earlier than planned. This rarely bodes well for me on the productivity front. On the way to school, I remembered I only had four eggs. My son has become interested in cooking lately, and the weather predicted here over the weekend is not conducive to leisurely grocery shopping. Eggs, bread and milk supplies are all in jeopardy with the approaching winter storm, although I guess it could be worse. We could be in the Washington, DC area that is predicting up to 30 inches of snow; those of you in the DC area have my sympathy. So, I decided to run to Costco to buy some eggs.

On the way to Costco, I saw a sale. It was one of those pop up sales we have in the US that you find in empty retail locations. Some have Halloween goodies. Some have clothing. Some have home furnishings, and since we need a new floor lamp, I decided to check it out. An hour later, I had purchased $100 worth of clothing for $35. This is a big deal in my world for two reasons. The first is because I rarely shop for clothes for myself, and the second is that I rarely shop for that long. I usually throw my hands in the air and just give up because the clothes don’t look right on my currently larger than I would like shape or they’re too expensive. These fit well and were from those more expensive stores I refuse to shop in, but all of the items I purchased had been marked down to a price range that made me deliriously happy. Now it was time to get the eggs.

If you’ve ever shopped in the US before a big snowstorm, you know that the store will be crowded. If you’re like me and you don’t bring a list, you know things can get out of hand. I only went into the store for one item: eggs. I came out with two packages of eggs, a huge bag of baking soda (because mine could run out in the next week or two), minced onions (because despite the smaller container I purchased just the other day, I might need the giant one soon), dried pasta (because my husband mentioned that he liked the kind we bought from Costco) and a 6 box carton of organic chicken stock (because I was in the process of making chicken soup for my sick nieces and I ran out of homemade broth) . Not the quick trip I expected and another hour burned, but I was finally on my way home. As I was driving, I was thinking about our weekend plans. My husband and I were planning a dinner out because I will be out of town for a few days next week. With the weather, I wondered if it would be better to alter the plans, so we did. We decided to move up our dinner so we wouldn’t have to fight the weather and panicked drivers later. I love to cook, but I love a night off so this was a welcomed plot twist, especially since I had a volunteer commitment that evening. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing my best to write, interspersed with volunteer work, cleaning up the house and trying to get the chicken soup I was working on to taste better. I love making soup and find it bothersome when the flavor falls short, and the flavor was definitely falling short on this batch.

Sometimes when making soup, the best thing you can do is to add a few ingredients, turn off the heat, let the flavor build and heat it up later to see how things are progressing. As we left for dinner, I did that with the soup. I added some spices and salt and pepper and turned off the heat. We had a lovely dinner out, and my husband dropped me off to my volunteer work so I didn’t have to find a parking spot in a very overcrowded parking lot. My job was to sign up new members to one of our marching band fundraisers. It is a way for students to build up funds for our marching band’s trip to Disney World this year. Traditionally, incoming freshmen have not been able to sign up until they have started at the high school which only gives them a couple of months to build up funds. Our goal was to give them more time which, for some, could make the difference between being able to make the trip and having to stay home. Unfortunately, we had no idea the website would be blocked (plot twist yet again)so; I could answer questions but couldn’t sign anyone up. It was not the way I would have chosen to spend the evening, but I got some valuable information and ideas to help new people become more familiar with the program.

After I got home, I flipped on the soup and tasted it when it was warm. It was still bland. Ok, now it was a challenge to see what I needed to add to make this soup come alive. I decided to start with some chicken base that I buy in the natural section of the store. Maybe that would help things, and after it got incorporated, I could shut things down for the night and work on it again in the morning. It had been such an unusual day, I hadn’t given the soup as much thought and care as I normally would. Perhaps I could coax it along tomorrow. We set about our evening routine, rested a bit and got ready for bed. It had been a long day, and we all were tired. It felt good to get to bed fairly early, and I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.

At 2:36am I woke up and smelled something. It was a horrible smell, and I knew immediately what it was; the soup. I grabbed my robe and ran downstairs to see the glow of the flame under the pot and the smell was even worse because there was also smoke to go with it. I turned off the stove. My husband had gotten up and joined me and suggested that we just put the pot on the back porch and wait until morning to open it. I agreed, thinking only of what could have happened if I hadn’t smelled that burning soup. In all my years of cooking, I’ve never done anything like this, and I wondered what was different this time. When I said to my husband that I couldn’t believe I had done that, he reminded me that he had shut down the kitchen and didn’t see the flame when he turned off the light. We both realized how close we had been to not waking up the next morning, and amazingly, all either one of us felt was gratitude. Neither one of us blamed the other one or ourselves. My family often makes fun of my extremely sensitive sense of smell and says I have a bionic nose because I can smell milk and tell you days before it will go bad; we’ve kept it to see if I was right and I was. I am offended by the smell of the trash can long before anyone else, and I can almost always smell something right before it begins to burn. I guess there is a delay when I’m sleeping because the veggies in the soup are burnt to a deep black. I’m not sure if the pan will survive, but I am so grateful that my husband, my son and I did. Last night, after we aired out the house a bit, we were lying in bed wide awake, and I burst into tears. Normally they would have been tears of regret and shame that I had “let” this happen. Last night, the tears were tears of gratitude for waking up. They were tears of joy that I would see my husband and children’s faces again. They were tears of humility and yet, the whole incident feels like a grace filled message. It feels like it’s time to put away false fears and drama. It’s time to step fully into my life, and today, that means telling the ladies in the school office how much appreciate what they do for our kids, which I did. It means thanking my son’s counselor for the incredible advocate she has been for my son and for seeing the potential in him, which I’ve done. It means telling someone I’ve worked with for years who has been told she is difficult to work with because she made people follow the rules how much I love working with her, which I have. It also meant holding my son’s and my husband’s faces in my hands before they left this morning and telling them how much I loved them and then texting my other two boys to tell them the same. Last night reminded me that life can change or end in the blink of an eye, and that I have much to do. I pray that I always remember and never need such a reminder again, so for those who love me, know I love you fiercely and sometimes too much but I’d rather love too much than too little. For those who are angry with me or are ignoring me right now, I love you and forgive you and wish you nothing but peace and happiness because we all deserve that and more. For those who are suffering, I am a fixer, and I love being that person. I am the person who will help you find the solutions if you want me to and sometimes when you don’t. If I overstep, you can say so. I’ll back off and appreciate your honesty and still love you besides. Today, I love life more than I ever have and though some might think that’s a bit dramatic after some burnt veggies in the bottom of a pan, the lingering smell that reminds me of what could have been and the memory of the look in my husband’s eyes last night tell me it’s not overly dramatic at all. It was a message and a gift, and it has been heeded. Thank you as always for taking time to read my posts. It means more to me than you know. Thank you for being you and have a great day.
Jamuary 22

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2 Responses to “The Morning That Almost Wasn’t”

  1. Chris Seal January 23, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    Love you Karen. Hope we can meet in person someday. Thanks for the article.

    • karenbemmes January 23, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

      Thank you Chris. I would love that so much.

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