There’s a special connection that comes with preparing meals for others too heartbroken to cook for themselves. Making those dinners with a group of volunteers brings an intimacy and humility that cannot be matched. And one of the best spots I know to do that is at the Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church, Va., a place that offers comfort, refuge and care for families whose children are battling life-threatening illnesses.
In World War II, families learned of a loved one killed in action by telegram. My husband's grandfather, with two military sons, recalled watching the telegram delivery man ride his bike down the street and praying that he would not stop at his door. Today a uniformed service member delivers the notification in person. Since 2001, the families of almost 7,000 men and women have opened their front doors to that devastating news.
After the alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m., each day brings a new set of challenges: deadlines and responsibility at work, AP history homework, French quizzes, soccer carpools, meetings at school, dogs that need to be walked and a hardworking husband who is rarely home before 8 p.m. My mother died in February after a difficult illness, and still I sometimes wake in the middle of the night in grief and panic. Add to that list a new study to worry about: The stress of my life may be increasing my risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.
I received word the other day that a long-time acquaintance had died. We had worked together in the beginning years of my newspaper career, and while we hadn't been that close, he nonetheless had represented a link in a circle of friends that was growing smaller every year. I was losing my history.
It was my first trip to Pennsylvania since Pop Pop passed away, and I was equal parts excited and apprehensive - excited because it was (and is) my favorite place on the planet; nervous because my favorite person wouldn't be there.
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