Why is it that no matter what the situation — a lovely day in life, or a dreary gathering after a death — that food is always at the epicenter bringing everyone together?

I learned early on when my dad passed away that the people who love you will make sure you’re well fed and taken care of during those horrible 2 days of the seemingly never-ending wake. I vividly remember my mom, my siblings and I sitting silently around the kitchen table after the first viewing. Some of us crying, some trying to be brave…when all of the sudden there was a knock at the kitchen door. Who on earth could this be?  In walked my cousin’s husband with a huge tray of my favorite sandwiches and an even bigger pan of my favorite stuffed chicken strips in garlic and white wine. Huh?

Turns out my dad’s sisters all took part in an assembly line that turned out the tray of stuffed chicken…and I guess my cousin and husband picked up the sandwich tray, I’m still not even sure who was responsible for that. My mom passed out plates, we filled them up and really started going at it. After about 5 minutes of true scoffing we looked up at each other and started cracking up…I’m not sure who started but it was contagious. I mean we laughed til we cried as we realized that we were starving since we hadn’t eaten a real meal since my dad passed away a few days earlier. Who would’ve thought it was my dad’s own sisters preparing that meal during their time of grief…now that my friends is love.

I’ve experienced similar situations after the death of my mom and most recently, the death of my husband’s mom. While we were all crammed in at my sister-in-law’s house in NJ there was a never-ending supply of delicious meals and delectable sweets, lovingly whipped up by family and friends. Surely no one went hungry that week.

I now make sure I do the same for the people I love — keeping them well fed and cared for whether they’re happily entertaining an overload of guests in their home…or forgetting to cook and nourish themselves during trying times or death.

A delicious cream cheese stuffed berry french toast casserole was just one of the meals we enjoyed for breakfast at my sister-in-law’s that week-end when condolences where abundant but the fridge was empty. I think it tasted even better knowing that it was prepared with love to not only fill our stomachs, but our hearts as well.