The AP issued this statement from the eulogy delivered by Veronique Pozner at the funeral for her son, Noah, on Monday, December 17:
“…The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day. But it is also your day, Noah, my little man. I will miss your forceful and purposeful little steps stomping through our house. I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room.
Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future. You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos…”
It seems there is almost nothing I could say here that would give comfort to the many parents and families suffering in my adopted state and throughout the country after the tragedy in Newtown. But still, I know it is time to say something. It is the least I can do.
All of us have tried in our own ways to cope with our collective grief by offering up what we can: we offer our words, our flowers, our prayers, our donations. And we offer our food. If not directly to the victims’ families, as parents we offer food to our own loved ones. As ever, sharing food is a way of keeping us together—of keeping us calm-- of keeping us safe. At least for now.
Lately, the phrase “comfort food” has been swaddling my thoughts more and more. For me, comfort food is food made at home with purpose. It provides comfort because it is warm and hearty. In our house, comfort food is usually packed with vegetables, some cheese and a little spice. In this form, and of course in moderation, sharing comfort food with my family translates into a generous, healthy and nurturing act. Dinner becomes a life-affirming activity. And preparing comfort food gives me an inch of control over an otherwise unpredictable and dangerous world.
And so I spent my first few hours alone since the tragedy soothing myself by the stove.
I slogged through spinach/mushroom enchiladas and ground my way down to a thin homemade salsa based on the indomitable Claire Criscuolo’s recipes. You can find them in her cookbooks here.
I wish I could say that I prepared Mexican food to honor the memory of a six-year-old boy whose coffin was being placed in the ground while I cooked. But I simply made these enchiladas for my own seven-year-old son, whose favorite meal is also anything wrapped in a tortilla.
The connection to this young neighbor and my own family is merely a sad coincidence. Even so, it bears noting that another little boy with a perpetual smile and ridiculous eyelashes might have enjoyed this dinner too.
As we gather around the table tonight, my thoughts will be with the Pozner family. I will probably tear up at the richness of the life I have before me, and my wonderfully oblivious children will laugh at mommy crying at the table, again. Then they will recognize the opportunity for a hug, and my too-tall daughter will try to climb into my lap along with the little boy. And family dinner will degrade into a cacophony of bickering and shoving and laughter. And as I send them back to their seats, I will remember yet again how quickly this time together is passing, despite my best attempts to slow it down.
Later tonight, I will give myself permission to grieve for the Pozners again. For my mind is working in a continual cycle right now -- cry, hug, laugh, repeat. I suspect this is the case for many of us, and that it will continue for a long, long time to come.