At this dinner party, we’re inviting grief to the table

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Illustration by Patti Blau

On a hot summer evening last year, I pulled a tomato tart out of the oven. With high hopes and crossed fingers, I peeked beneath the foil.

It smelled delicious. Thanks, Samin Nosrat, we nailed it. The tomato tart was for an event I was attending called The Dinner Party, yet it wasn’t quite the type of dinner party that might stir up images of champagne bottles being popped or fanciful desserts being passed around.

Instead, this particular dinner party was more likely to conjure images of hospital walls and funeral processions, bleak days and sleepless nights. …


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Photo by Malinda Meadows


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Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

There are few experiences that involve complete strangers that really pique my interest.

I try to employ the occasional friendly chitchat—at coffee shops, the library, or waiting in line somewhere—but I’ve never been great at it. It’s just the way it is. I’m someone who takes time to warm up to others, and never have I minded if they take the same approach with me.

So when my Uber driver asks me where I am going on this particular evening, likely prompted by the aroma of the just-from-the-oven tomato tart held in my hands, I am surprised to hear the enthusiasm in my own voice as I say, “I’m going to a dinner party with complete strangers, but we all have dead parents in common!” …


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Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash

The earliest of our senses stirs awake and begins to break through the morning haze. Auditory. The birds chirping, a sound not likely to be noticed on any other day of the week. A melodic string of notes unassuming to human ears, not unlike the pleasure that can come from listening to music sung in a foreign language.

If it were a weekday, we’d be out of the house by now. But today, our eyes momentarily flutter behind their lids. They have the time to spare. Where there is normally darkness to the mornings, the light shines differently. It shyly pushes itself through the curtains, careful not to disturb too suddenly. …


Navigating the pragmatic steps of freelancing is the easiest part — it’s the emotional and mental parts that are hard.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Search and you will find tons of sensible advice regarding taking the leap into freelancing. Recommendations like saving up 3–6 months of expenses, building a network beforehand, or freelance on the side until you are confident you can earn at least 50% of your current salary.

But the hardest part of freelancing for me was by no means sorting out the practical side.

Instead, it was the little things I would have never thought of until I was in the thick of it, until I took the plunge into a sea full of firsts and uncertainties. …


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Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

It’s curious to think, that each of us up here has a life of their own — as messy and complicated and complex and wounded and delicately woven as ours. Some problems don’t go away even once you have reached 30,000 feet.

I watch the flight attendant begin to lose patience with the woman in the green jacket one row in front of me. He has sweat on his upper lip, an annoyed look in his eyes, and one foot pointed to where he was headed before she stopped him. …


I lost my mother twice. Once to cancer, once to a drunk driver.

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Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

The first time felt evident, an eventuality that I knew deep down was going to happen. We were borrowing time but we were good at it, for a while at least.

She was 52 when she got the news, I was 18. I had freshly graduated from high school and it was the summer before I was to start college. Where most were leaving the city and going away for college, I stayed home to remain close by.

I walked around with this gnawing feeling in my stomach at all times. It was worse when she had appointments early in the morning. …


If there is anything I know for certain, it’s that the comparison trap is real.

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Photo by Mitchell Hollander on Unsplash

As much as I love reading, sometimes I get disheartened by really fantastic writing.

I then start spiraling down that slippery slope of comparison, brooding over every writing mistake I’ve ever made, every grammatical taboo I’ve overlooked, or every story that went off topic from what was initially intended. Who do I even think I am, calling myself a writer?

Then I started this pottery class and it shifted my perspective of perfectionism.

We meet once a week for three hours in a studio that is brimming with talented artists. My teacher is a potter by trade and this is abundantly clear by her skill. …


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Photo by Josh Wilburne on Unsplash

Stand behind the line, ma’am.

I have to ask you again, ma’am, please stand behind the line.

The ceilings sweep high above with natural light cascading downwards to meet us. Indistinct murmurs float from deep within.

To escape the frenzy and find solitude, I leap ahead to the second floor and choose a room at random. Tucked inconspicuously near the door frame, I see the first of the Van Gogh paintings. Not more than two feet away, Renoirs subtly begin to make their appearance and will continue throughout the entire foundation — in fact, 181 in total.

The Barnes Foundation pulsated with masterpieces. …


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It is a perfectly square box, with diagonal wooden panels. On the top, there is a missing piece with jagged remains; never to be repaired but always holding the threat of administering splinters. A worn golden latch protects its contents, the photographs partially peeking through the broken slit.

I did not want to sift through the photographs. We tried to muster the energy in the blurry whirlwind of days. Grief had become an uninvited guest in our home. I didn’t want to think. I didn’t want to do anything.

About

Malinda Meadows

My mom died before being able to see the world she loved so much. I’m determined to see it while I can. www.malindainthesnow.com

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