I was just washing the dishes letting my mind wander, feeling the calm, meditative state at 7:32 a.m. with kids off to school and only the cats’ meowing to interrupt my thoughts. Staring at my coffee cup on the counter, I had a flashback of my grandparents ordering their coffee in a restaurant: Grandpa took his with cream and Grandma Jack-Jack took hers black. The servers got it wrong every time. While my thoughts lingered on coffee, I thought what a fun topic – everyone loves coffee! But in the midst of sadness from losing my daughter’s trapeze instructor, I think when is the right time to lighten the mood? Like when you are at a funeral and you are sad for the loss, but you feel the need to smile at a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. It feels forbidden to enjoy yourself while you and others are feeling intense grief. When my friend lost her husband I remembered eliminating phrases like scared to death because death was on the forefront of our minds.
On the other hand, times of great sadness bring about opportunities for one of the best emotions – laughter through tears. One of the first funerals I attended was in high school for a boy who died at sixteen due to heart issues. Several friends and I went to eat together after the funeral. As sad as we were, the togetherness, and a few smiles and chuckles during the meal began to mend our hearts. Last night as I was thinking about the sweet twenty-five year old we lost, I abruptly decided to turn on Netflix for a quick show. I think it is ok to give ourselves permission to turn our backs on our emotions, to give ourselves a distraction. I heard one friend even say she uses her “lightswitch” to turn off and turn on her feelings. It was her survival tool during a long, difficult time. With these points in mind, I’d like permission to distract myself for a few minutes and turn things in a light-hearted direction … toward coffee.
So as I was washing the dishes just a little while ago dozens of coffee scenes raced through my mind. I was just recently on a cruise and at the dinner table, Karla lifted the lid of a silver dish and said, “there’s your sugar, Jo.” And I realized that I’m not as standard as Grandpa and Grandma Jack-Jack were. Sometimes I like my coffee with milk; sometimes black; and if it’s an event like a bridal shower or baby shower, then by all means let’s tip in the cream and the sugar.
If you think about coffee, you can probably connect an image with any person you know. For instance, when I was in high school, my dad was always up first. He started the coffee and he’d pour a splash of milk into my mom’s coffee mug so that by the time she added her coffee, the milk would be luke-warm, thus not compromising the temperature of the coffee. I thought that was the sweetest tiny gesture.
Niki likes her iced coffee from Trader Joe’s with about a cup and a half of creamer added. Lindsey likes coffee as long as it is a day that ends in “y.” If I think about my friend Katie, I don’t think of coffee at all, but her anti-coffee is Coca-Cola. I can remember years ago when Marcia quit smoking. We ordered a frappe at Blue Sky and she asked them to “hold the whipped cream.” I thought she was a crazy lady. She explained she didn’t want sugar to replace nicotine. Then I thought she was a genius.
My husband doesn’t drink coffee. He was a Coke guy like Katie. In fact, he was probably as addicted to Coke as my high school German teachers were addicted to coffee. When third period rolled around, we’d ask what cup they were on. It was usually number four. My husband used to start and end his day with Coke as well as have some at lunch along with a to-go cup. But he quit drinking Coke altogether for two years; now he enjoys an occasional Sprite. Very impressed. So I wonder if he has these coffee connections that come to mind like I do? I wonder if he can still hear his mom say to his dad, “Johnny, will you put on the coffee?” as we all sat, fed and satisfied at the dinner table for our Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter meals.
If you are a coffee person, try my trick: I bet if you hear the words hazelnut, Starbucks, cold-brewed, Jittery Joes, or peppermint mocha someone comes to mind! Does a place come to mind? McDonald’s coffee with two creams and two sugars means I’m on a road trip. Right now my second coffee is pretty cold, but I still take a last sip or two as I hear the reports of the day blasting like cannons out of the girls’ mouths. I wonder what type of coffee people they will grow to be?