“Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.”
“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”
Today I drove Ethan down to visit his mom. Intially I felt ackward because this is the first time that we have been to visit since receiving the letter full of accusations and paranoia that she sent to me. But I prayed while waiting for her to come out and as time edged on, the ackwardness sidled away.
She is usually late to arrive, but it took her a full hour to come out today. I was a tad annoyed because this adds time to the entire visiting process. We got in the visiting area at 9:30am and she came out at 10:35am. I have no clue as to what takes her so long. Most inmates come right out.
She was her usual pleasant self, making sure to include me in their conversations. She even waved to me through the window as they processed her. Wary, I only spoke when addressed in order to allow mother and child time together.
However, there was one thing different about this visit. I did not bring the usual $10 that I normally do so that we may get things from the vending machine. I rarely eat though because most of the things in the machines don’t appeal to my taste buds so early in the morning. It is a two-hour drive to get there so I know that Ethan is probably a little hungry by then. Out of courtesy I always offer Eliza something as well.
The first time that we visited her last November, she looked totally shocked when I asked her if she wanted a refreshment. She halfheartedly declined. Later in the visit I offered her again insisting that she at least get a drink. She happily obliged.
Since that first time she hasn’t refused a snack. I really don’t mind treating her but my husband has a different opinion. He feels that I already spend enough on gas (usually $60 roundtrip) and taking the kids to lunch afterwards. He has also stated that she probably doesn’t appreciate it and comes to expect it. He also feels that this gives her an attitude of superiority because she has me (a former enemy) buying things for her. He thinks, too, that Ethan should use some of his allowance to buy snacks for them.
I reminded him that she has never asked me to buy her anything because I am the one offering. Two, for me it would be quite humbling to accept something from a person I once viewed as the enemy. I am not getting the impression that she is being smug about it. Finally, I don’t really care if she does feel triumphant that I am spending a small amount of money on her. If she is indeed “using” me, the shame is on her and not me. It is not like I am spending a fortune on her. Besides, food helps break the ice time and again.
Plus, I bear witness to the healing power of food. Food comforts, strengthens, and uplifts us (just visualize “The Last Supper”). That’s why there are such terms as “comfort food” and “homestyle cooking.” It has probably turned some foes into friends–just the act of sharing alone. Food is MEANT to be shared with people. Food is also an important part of our lives. And don’t forget that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. How bitter/uneasy/depressed can you be for long when you and others are stuffing your faces with goodies? Food allows the good times to roll. Not to mention it feels odd not to be snacking when everyone around us is doing so. I feel good that I am able to offer something at all. Of course, my husband felt that I was being far too philosophical about the matter.
I can even understand why my husband would have a hard time breaking bread with Eliza. Sometimes I do get very angry with the kind of person she is. I even think of ways that I can hurt/best her in the fragile position that she is in. She seems to have no problem inflicting pain. Every chance she gets she uses it to slap us in the face and rain on our parade when we least expect or deserve it. But somehow I know that it is not safe to fight fire with fire. When she offends me, I can’t try to offend her in return. I am of sound mind. And if she suffers from the mental issues that I think she does, then she can’t help herself without treatment. I have no excuses.
While I do respect and empathize with my husband’s opinion, I am the one who will make the ultimate choice about how I conduct myself with her. If I have the money to spare, I will continue to graciously provide the funds for snacking. I understand that she will never likely return the favor which is fine by me. But that’s not why I do it.
The Bible is a feast of words and I must say that Romans 12:19-21 is quite a delicious sampling of the banquet we have coming: Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”