This past weekend I made ‘home-made’ pizza. Now you may not think this is anything special; you may make pizza from scratch every week or two, but making pizza last weekend marked a milestone for me. You see, it is the first time I’ve made it since my husband died.
We always made pizzas together. Always. Gary’s main responsibility was preparing the dough and cooking the ground beef, and mine was chopping veggies, grating cheese and greasing the pans. While we worked we chatted and often sipped wine (me) and diet cola (him), and before you could say “Jack Sprat could eat no fat”, our pizzas would be in the oven.
Our production-style method of preparing pizza worked great for us. We never quibbled over who should do what–we knew what had to be done in order to enjoy this delicious weekend supper and over the years our roles in making this meal morphed into ones that complemented each other.
After Gary died I wondered if I’d ever again have the energy or desire to make pizza, and up until this past weekend I didn’t. I thought about it sometimes, but then panic would set in and I’d start hyperventilating, so I never even bought the ingredients to have on hand.
But last Friday I went to the store and bought pepperoni, green pepper, fresh mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce, just in case. I thought maybe Friday night I’d make it for my son and me but by the time the supper hour approached the thought of making pizza overwhelmed me, so we ate pasta.
“That’s okay,” I thought. “I can always try again tomorrow night.”
So Saturday afternoon I decided to use my bread machine to make the dough. Figured if I didn’t make pizza with it I would maybe make garlic fingers. Then over a glass of wine I went to work and chopped vegetables and sliced pepperoni. My son and his girlfriend joined me in the kitchen and my son offered to grate the cheese. The three of us chatted easily while I prepared the meal, and when I paused a couple of times to wipe my eyes with a tissue because I didn’t think it would be good manners to have tears drip into the pizza sauce, nobody made a fuss.
I knew that making pizza would bring a lot of memories to the surface again for me, and it certainly did. But I realize now that I needn’t have stressed about that; the memories are good ones, about happy times my husband and I spent together doing the simplest of tasks and enjoying each other’s company.
When Saturday night’s pizza came out of the oven and I sliced it and announced that “Pizza’s ready,” I had a lump in my throat. And even though my first bite was bittersweet and it seemed as though I had to chew it a lot more times than I normally have to, it was very good pizza, and I knew that Gary would be pleased that this milestone was now behind me.
I’m going to make it again sometime soon, for sure when my daughter comes home in December for her Christmas break. Maybe I’ll also make Gumdrop Cake for Christmas this year; Gumdrop Cake was Gary’s absolute favorite holiday treat, and every year he searched the stores for the brand of gumdrops we preferred and helped me cut them into thirds and flour them.
So what if I need to wipe my eyes a few times while I’m working in the kitchen this Christmas? I’ll be sure to keep a tissue nearby because I don’t think it would be good manners to have tears drip into the Gumdrop Cake batter, but one milestone at a time, one milestone at a time.