My brother passed away exactly in the time frame the doctors gave him, nine months after his stomach cancer diagnosis in May 2006. During most of that time his nourishment came though a J-tube. It’s enough to say he couldn’t put anything into his mouth that went into his stomach. Once in a while he felt alright enough to sit at the table and watch us eat, smelling, smiling, being with us. The cooking channel was constantly on TV, and for almost all of those weeks he swallowed nothing, not even water so his chemo-vomiting was whatever it is in our bellies that’s already there whether there’s something to digest or not. Food became a thing and a non-thing. It was everything and it was nothing.
When I hear about a fast, a cleanse, a take this or that out of ones diet I think of how I peeled a grape for Bill to taste before he had to spit it out. I handed it to him before he gave me a quick shush to stop my talking so he could concentrate. He closed his eyes after he put it into his mouth.
Diets. Gluten free probably is a good thing. People say they feel better and some truly have immune or digestive issues, so of course. I understand we are what we eat, diets can heal, and when I did an elimination diet once to see about allergies the headaches from sugar withdrawal were debilitating so yeah, it’s real. But don’t eat this, eat that, organic-only this and that, cut back on whatever, chia seeds not flax seeds, yada-yada, yes, yes, yes, alright. Of course there are reasonable, available facts that diet changes can be helpful.
But when food choices become an unhappy deprivation just-because, I protest. Where is the moderation? Where is the place between watching the cooking channel in effort to imagine eating and the full-bodied sensation of tasting one grape? Somewhere between everything and nothing.