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August 2005
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October 2005

Twenty Years of Food for the Soul

Her corkscrew curly brown hair falls carelessly past her shoulders and down her back. In the dusk of early evening, the champagne colored beads on her dress are shimmering in the soft light. She looks beautiful. She is smiling her silly, relaxed smile and her eyes are shining. She places one hand on her fiancé’s shoulder, while the other, gracefully holds her glass of champagne. Nervous and determined not to cry, I move my eyes away from her image and begin the toast I have written for her.…

“Jill lives her life with great passion. And, we have been so fortunate

To receive, the many gifts she gives us.

Gifts of loyalty love and support.

And now, a man who knows her heart,

her smile, her spirit. Has chosen her.

May he give to her these very same gifts, and more.

That she so richly deserves”.

The toast is finished, and I am watching her walk toward me. Her familiarness stirs something within me.I surrender my mind to the memory of when we first met, over twenty years ago.

She stood then, amidst a cluster of fifteen year olds. They were gathered around her, echoing her laughter, and following her animated gestures eagerly. Her voice , not yet the sexy purr that it is today, was fresh and fun and full of bounce.

I was a new student at a large public high school. She brought me into her circle of friends, and soon after, into her family. She fed me wonderful Italian meals and welcomed me into the warmth of her home. She accepted me, looked after me, encouraged me.

Today, she is a gifted primary education teacher. Each year, a new classroom of smiling, adoring little faces are thrilled to be in her classroom. Because she accepts them, looks after them and encourages them- like she did me.

She relates to the special needs of my children, and provides amazing insight to the challenge and care of raising them. And when Zoe is ill, and we have to go to the hospital , urgently and unexpectedly, she is the only friend that visits us.She comes to check on Zoe, and she comes to check on me. She wraps her arms around Zoe and makes her smile. She feeds me homemade spaghetti and words of encouragement. She brings me socks to warm my cold feet.

She has promised to be my children’s advocate, guardian and mother, should the day ever come.I know there is nothing she wouldn’t do for them.

And now, she has given me another gift of forgiveness, and understanding.

Soon she will marry, and I, her best friend will not be there.

Tonight, I invited her into my heart, so she could feel my troubled spirit, my weariness and worry. She felt the pain of my children’s illness. And when I explained how I could not leave them, to travel to her wedding. She understood.

And once more, she fed my soul with the love of her friendship- as she has for twenty years.


Weary, is how the mother looks. Her eyes are full of pain and her face shows the stress of extreme heat. Tears stain the light film of dust gathering in the folds and deepening lines beneath her eyes. . She is looking directly into the camera as her words whisper through her cracked lips. She is holding her baby, his head curled into the crook of her neck. Clothed only in a diaper, he hangs limply against her body. His mother turns, so we can see his face resting against her shoulder. His red flaming cheeks, his closed eyes, and the stillness of his torso tell of his defeat. She pleads for help. With no water, her baby has become overheated and lethargic.

This is the heartbreaking image still playing in my mind, one of the many fallen faces hurt from the horror of Katrina. I heard this mother plead and watched her tears fall. Thinking all the time, of the mothers I know, whose children are too fragile to live through such cruel chaos.

I imagine these mothers-desperate for food and water and without the necessary medication their children require. Plenty of heat, little rest, and nothing to strengthen their weakening little ones. 

And today I give thanks, as we move throughout our day. Traveling …to therapists and doctors offices, to my daughter’s schools, to the pharmacy for medicine refills, to grocery stores for food, and finally, we return to our home.

Our home that is still standing and exactly how we left it…

And at the end of the night, when I kiss my daughters red rosebud lips , it is hard to forget the red flaming cheeks on that baby boy, and the many fallen faces Katrina left behind.