Thursday, January 15, 2009
I made spaghetti tonight for a military family that just had a baby. It’s customary in our unit for the military spouses to volunteer to make a week's worth of meals for the family after their baby is born. I think it’s a nice tradition. Although I haven’t figured out whether subjecting other people to my cooking is an act of kindness or cruelty. (I’ll let them decide, after they taste the meal.) While I was making the spaghetti, I remembered the time that Husband (before we were married) made a spaghetti meal for someone at our last base, but under very different circumstances. A woman in his unit, who was also on active duty, lost her military husband, who was killed during his deployment. We both felt heartbroken for her, this poor woman that lost her everything and became a single mother in a tragic instant. Husband asked me what he should do for her. I told him that maybe he could make her a meal. And I suggested that he might want to give it to her sometime after the initial outpouring of support, when she might need it more. I had forgotten about our conversation, until one day when I was at his apartment and I noticed a pretty, white candle that had a fancy bow tied around it. “Where did that come from?” I asked, knowing perfectly well that Husband didn’t own many “pretty” things and would never buy such a thing for himself. “It’s from the woman whose husband died,” he answered. And he told me the story. He had made a spaghetti meal for her. She was sitting at her desk, and he dropped off the meal saying simply, “I made this for you.” She thanked him, and he left. A few minutes later, one of Husband’s buddies noticed the woman crying at her desk, and he asked her what was wrong. “That pilot…I don’t know his name…made me a meal,” she said. Husband’s buddy asked her what he looked like, and she said, “You know, that tall, skinny one.” (I laughed to myself at this point in the story.) “Oh, you mean, [Husband’s callsign]?” he asked her. She nodded. And the next day she brought Husband a candle to express her thanks. She was obviously touched by Husband’s gesture, and I was proud of him for what he did. (I also knew that I wanted to marry him, if not for his kindness, then for his delicious spaghetti.) This story reminds me that a seemingly small thing, like a meal, can mean a lot. It also reminds me of what I love about the military community: that through the ups and downs, we are all part of a team. Through the happy birth of a baby or through the tragic death of a spouse, someone is there to offer a meal. I can only hope that my spaghetti is as good as Husband’s.