I woke up this morning craving a dish called chicken divan. My mom’s recipe includes broccoli, chicken, mayonnaise, cream of mushroom soup, lemon juice, shredded cheese, and bread crumbs. It is a total comfort food indulgence. My mom made this recipe for years, and it has always been one of my favorites. Steaming hot served over white rice; there’s hardly anything better on a cold winter night. So, I went on a hunt to find the recipe. She had initially seen it in The Boston Globe decades ago and had clipped it out. After many years, she put it in a plastic sleeve to protect it. After looking for that for a long time, I came up empty-handed and saddened thinking I’d never be able to replicate it without that aged and yellowed piece of newspaper. Finally, in the last place I looked, I spotted a newer white notecard with “chicken divan” written in her handwriting. Then I remembered, during her final years, she started handwriting out recipes that she knew I liked so I would be able to make them once she was no longer here. Holding it and looking at it, I expected to feel sadness. But I didn’t. It was more of a feeling of comfort. She was thinking ahead to this moment. My mom is still taking care of me, and that has comforted me more than the dinner I am going to curl up on the sofa tonight and eat.
I’m not dealing with the world today
It’s too big and I feel so small.
I’m building a fort of unread books
And in it I will crawl.
I’ll wrap myself in the warmth of tales
Both real and make believe
Enraptured in every single word
It’ll be tomorrow before I leave.
Hour by hour and page by page
I’ll be lost in mysteries and lore
And classics, plays and on and on
I’ll never stop wanting more
I’ll draw power from the words I read
For power all words do possess.
And the many ideas that I absorb
Will guide me like a compass.
Passages from books I read
Will stay with me all my life.
And comfort and embolden me
When my life is full of strife.
And when I need some extra space
When the world feels like its hell
I’ll always have my fort of books
To take shelter in for a day and dwell.