I recently attended a service for a man I had never met. Why? My husband, older son, and brother-in-law are very good friends with the deceased's son-in-law and daughter. My husband visited the 87 year old gentleman once he had fallen ill and from what I've heard, he was a wonderful soul. The service was personal and followed by a repast at Limencello at Orange Inn in Goshen. (I haven't eaten there in years and yes, I was also a customer of the "old" Orange Inn before it became Limencello's.)
I anticipated a brief luncheon with maybe a few more stories of the departed. Approximately 20 guests gathered in one of the private dining rooms and we were offered drinks, wine, coffee and water immediately. I was unsure about what to order but decided on a cranberry and vodka.
Many of those gathered were quite well acquainted and I was a little bit on the outside, but certainly present to support my husband and his friend. I appreciated the stories, again offered my condolences and listened to the stories of both past and present. A man has died. A father, a grandfather, a retired member of the NYPD and Navy. He lived for 87 well filled years. Kind of amazing.
Our server brought out several anti-pasta plates for us to share. The meats were deliciously savory and appropriately salty. The cheese and tomato slices were flavorful and I probably could have cleared the plate by myself and called it a meal.
A short time later, guests were all presented with a hearty helping of penne a la vodka. The pasta was firm and the sauce was perfectly pink and creamy. After another lapse, we were brought fresh salads and I was full. My stomach simply could not hold another bite, but we were left for a bit of a rest to share more stories and you could feel the tension seep out of everyone. It was going to be ok.
We were given choices of chicken, salmon or veal for a main course and when the plates arrived I knew I could not eat much more food. I pushed it around a bit and our host encouraged me to take it home. It felt a little strange at first, but I would have felt worse about wasting such a lovely dish of food.
Wine continued to be poured, drinks were depleted and our sodas were replaced with cups for coffee and tea.
Dessert. Oh my. Who has room? My stomach will burst, my head is spinning and the bread pudding is beautifully prepared and in front of me with a cup of Earl Grey tea. I decide I have to at least taste it.
The dessert is well balanced - sweet without being overwhelming - sort of like life.
We gathered together to honor a man's life and support the loved ones he left behind. We were Fed Well, both physically and emotionally. No, it's not easy, but when you support each other, it is a little easier to get through.