Friday Things // 04.15.2022
The one sending you love via grilled cheese.
*If you’re reading this because today’s letter was forwarded to you, or you stumbled upon it on the Substack website, please consider subscribing for free.*
For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about grilled cheese lately. (Yep, the sandwich.) More specifically, a memory I have of being with my mom when I was really little — maybe four or five years old — at a hospital, and her “sneaking” me up to the cafeteria to get a grilled cheese and french fries while I had an IV in my hand.
As you may or may not know, I have a chronic blood disorder (something I never used to talk about, literally ever, but have started to open up more about in the last few years; you can read a bit about my experience here and here) and so I grew up in hospitals and doctors’ offices. In my 30s now, I am more comfortable around needles and terrible fluorescent lighting and the smell of sterile rooms than most anything else. And as such, oh so many of my most vivid memories from my childhood include being in a hospital room somewhere with my mom. That may sound really depressing, but I assure it was not. It never, ever was — it was a normal part of my life (still is!) and for the most part, my mom — and the nurses, God bless them — made it as enjoyable as humanely possible at all times.
Anyways, back to that grilled cheese memory. When I was younger, the hospital I went to for my medical care was a bit far from our house, so we would go and it would be a whole day event; I’d get my blood drawn in the morning, and then my mom and I would usually have some time to kill before it was time for the rest of my appointment to continue. That most often meant that my IV would get started early in the day, and then I’d be hanging out with it in my arm or wherever, until around dinnertime, after my treatment had ended. You were technically not supposed to leave the treatment area if you had an IV started, but sometimes the nurses would let my mom sneak me out and up to the cafeteria to get a snack or, if it was close to lunchtime, a grilled cheese and the best steak fries ever. On this particular day, I remember so distinctly clamoring through the hospital’s empty stairwell with my mom and trying to cover up my hand with a sweater or something so that the IV wasn’t too obvious once we got into the cafeteria (which, actually, was really a sort of coffee shop in the hospital that also served hot sandwiches).
I have no idea why this memory has been so firmly lodged into my brain in the last week, but it has, along with the realization that sometimes it’s the most unassuming moments in our life that stand out to us the most. I’m sure my mom would be surprised to hear that of the almost 34 years we had together, THAT is one of the main memories playing in a loop in my head when I think back to my childhood. Like what? But I think it’s an important reminder that the seemingly small moments matter. Your interactions and exchanges with the people in your life don’t have to be all sparkles and fanciful displays; that’s not what makes us memorable or important, special or remarkable. It’s a collection of how we make people feel in the tiniest ways, the least glamorous moments, no matter if it’s you and your kid, or between friends or significant others, or amongst strangers on the street. Lead with love and know that you — you! — have the power to make someone feel braver or cared about, even through the quietest of gestures or kindnesses.
Sending you all love on this holiday weekend, whatever you may celebrate. My husband and I won’t be able to be with family this year, but I’ll be baking this rainbow bread anyways. (And regardless of if you’re celebrating anything, maybe get yourself a good, gooey grilled cheese!) As always, I so appreciate the messages you all send me, and feel free to drop a comment here. xo
Thanks for reading,