I had a bad day today. It started out fine enough and a quick call sent it all speeding right downhill.
See, the thing is that a couple of weeks ago, I found out that my Dad has prostate cancer. His health is already pretty poor (he's been in a nursing home for five years even though he's only 76) and we're just waiting to find out if the cancer has spread elsewhere.
I've been kind of a rock about the whole thing. Very matter of fact. Hopeful that it hasn't spread and that, with hormones and radiation, we can just nip it in the bud. That without too much discomfort, we'll be able to maintain his quality of life.
But today just chatting with one of the nurses at the nursing home about all the testing appointments for my dad, the nurse Kim said this, "I'm so sorry to hear this about Charlie. He's such a nice man."
For some reason, those two sentences pushed me over an edge that I didn't even know was there. I couldn't talk for the next minute or so and burst into tears once I'd hung up the phone. Luckily, I had a counseling session already planned for today and so I went to Jane's office and just basically cried for an hour. I felt better afterwards and decided to put my bawling aside and get on with the rest of my day: Going to PetSmart for food. Filling the car with gas. Mailing our last little Christmas packages at the post office.
By the time I accomplished the first of these things it was four o'clock and, not having eaten lunch, I was starving. At that instant, what should conveniently be looming ahead of me but my old high school hang-out, Steak and Shake. I thought about just getting the grilled chicken sandwich and a bottle of water. Instead I went a little nutty.
"Yes, I'd like the Steakburger with Cheese, large onion rings and a vanilla shake. With hot fudge," I heard myself saying into the ordering podium, the possibility of a healthier lunch already forgotten.
Here's the thing: I have spent a good chunk of my life comforting myself with bad food. And, for the most part nowadays, I'm a pretty healthy eater. I might order one of the things I did today as a treat once in a blue moon, but never all three at once.
But I have to tell you, as a pulled away from the drive-thru and took the first sip of shake, things really did seem more right with the world. It wasn't just a "takhomasac" or whatever they call a hot bag of high-calorie foods at Steak and Shake sitting on the passenger seat next too me. I felt like I was in the company of old friends. It felt warm and reassuring. Certainly drive-thru dining is not a long-term coping strategy (unless I want to weigh 400 pounds!), but at that moment, it was just what I needed.