So I wrote before about trying out new foods during the period of time that Hillary had cancer. I kind of skipped one thing that I also started making occasionally in 2018. It was certainly not as healthy of an option as the ones I mentioned there.
This is one of those things I never made. We'd do KFC every couple of years, but it just wasn't on my radar to actually make it myself. Then, one evening in probably about March, everyone else had eaten some sort of dinner. The kids were in bed, Hillary had passed out before them. This was during the interregnum before Heather and Roger came back again. My timelines are a bit fuzzy in that period.
So I was hungry and the house was empty. I'd been working out a fair bit and decided I needed some protein. The decision was basically, "I'm a grown ass adult. I can make food for myself."
There was also a fair bit of, "And Hillary's diet is mercurial right now anyway. If I don't take care of myself, things are not going to go well."
So I got some chicken thighs out, chunked them up, and hit the internet. I breaded and spiced them and then fried them in some oil in a cast iron pan. It was, not surprisingly, goddamned delicious. It turns out people love fried chicken for a reason.
I would make it for the kids once at some point. Hillary was mostly eating vegetarian in the spring so she passed. The kids liked it.
Fast forward to the summer. I was going to make it again for the kids and I. Hillary was eating small amounts of chicken and some other meats in an attempt to keep her protein intake up. She initially passed on it as I was going to bread the chicken.
"We have gluten free flours, it'd be super easy for me to use those instead and there won't be anything you can't eat in it."
"Okay, I might have one or two chunks, but only if it's easy to do."
"It is easy."
So it was steamed veggies, probably rice and fried chicken.
I made it, dished everyone up and put a couple of small chunks on Hillary's plate. We started eating and she gingerly tried it out. Then took a few more chunks. Then a few more.
The salad rolls would be a hit and I'd do them again for Hillary. That was a bit of a production though. The fried chicken in particular she explicitly called me out on a couple of times in those last couple of months.
"Those were really good."
"I can't believe how good that was."
I'd made the salad rolls once at that point. That made the fried chicken officially the last new dinner that I introduced and cooked for Hillary that she enjoyed. And she really, really liked it.
I could do nothing to change the trajectory of her disease. I couldn't keep her alive. All I could do was make her life easier, more comfortable, more content in that last year.
For a few brief minutes while I was cleaning up and Hillary was keeping me company after this particular meal, I almost felt normal. I'd made one dinner and the four of us ate it. I heard a tone of voice in her that I had rarely heard in the previous several months. It's hard to articulate precisely what it was. Something like contentment.