I watch as he slices a pear, an orange, and a banana and sets them next to the red grapes on the plate. He pours me a glass of orange juice and then lays out plates of sausage, low sodium bacon, honey glazed ham, and potatoes. From the oven he takes out French toast.
A month before a supervisor handed me an envelope at work when I came in off 12 hours on the road. I opened it up that night, and found a two page, single spaced typed letter from a patient I’d taken care of this summer asking me to call him. He said while he does not remember much about the call, a nurse had told him at the hospital that he needed to find me and thank me. He said he wanted to do it in person. He is a chef and wanted to cook for me.
When he met me at his door, I told him he looked good, and he does. He says he has lost forty pounds, has a new medicine regime, goes to cardiac rehab, and now he has a defibrillator in his chest. He says he is grateful for each day.
We sit and eat and talk about our lives in the kitchen of his home. Like me he has a young daughter born later in his life. She calls while we are eating and asks him to find a folder she forgot to bring to school. Both of us talk about how having a child has changed our lives.
I don’t know why it took me almost three weeks to call him. But I am glad I did. In our line of work, we separate ourselves from our patients. We become a tribe unto ourselves. Here this morning, as the two of us talk about growing up in the area and raising families while doing the things we love, I feel like I am part of something larger – a part of the community. We rise in the darkness, go out into the world, and at the end of the working day, come home to our families. We are surrounded by others, grocers, bankers, electricians, teachers, factory workers. I am a paramedic and he is a chef.
He tells me how the French toast is made out of artisan bread. He sliced the bread into cubes and mixed the cubes with chunks of apple, then piled them on top of uncut slices of bread and baked them with just a touch of cinnamon. The toast is rich and delicious; the kitchen warm. We talk like old friends.