Coffee’s Bitter Memory

Every Wednesday morning, I wake up with the same thought: We’re halfway to the weekend! I know I’m not alone in this sentiment; everybody’s working for the weekend. I feel this even more so now that Rob is gone. On Saturday mornings, I used to wake up to 90s grunge and the smell of coffee wafting up the stairs. Rob was in the kitchen. Never one to scrimp on breakfast, he’d have pancakes baking, omelets frying, a pot of coffee steaming, and bacon sizzling in a pan. Kids happily swirled around him, their fingers sticky with maple syrup.

I’m a night owl, and Saturdays were my chance to sleep in. Rob managed the kids and carb-loaded them for the day while I caught an extra half hour (or more!) of rest. When I’d finally descend the stairs, he’d be standing — King of the Kitchen — spatula in hand, flipping flapjacks and swigging joe. It was the best smelling day of the week. No wonder I looked forward to it from the middle of the week on!

After Rob died, I moved the coffee maker and his espresso machine from the kitchen counter to the pantry closet. I’m not a coffee drinker, and I told myself it made some extra counter space. But really, some items just feel good to have around, and others don’t. Coffee’s a bitter memory now, a reminder that Saturday mornings don’t hold the same joy they used to. I’ve considered brewing a pot just to make the kitchen smell again, but it feels fake. Like one of those full size cardboard cutouts of a famous actor. Close, but missing the essential dimension of real life.

To play the good host, I have started pulling out the coffeemaker when company comes. I asked my brother-in-law, a former Starbucks manager, to teach me how to make it for guests. I even Googled to see how much caffeine a cup of decaf contains to see if my delicate uncaffeinated system could handle it. Come to find out, a cup of decaf has fewer milligrams of caffeine (7mg) than that extra large handful of M&Ms (9mg) I scarf down as an afternoon pick-me-up. Technically, I guess, I could pour myself a cup. Honestly though, I think the first sip would make me cry.

On Saturdays, I’ve started listening to 90s rock anthems to break the quiet and lure the kids down for breakfast. I bought myself a giant pancake spatula and perfected my flip. Maybe someday I’ll give up my coffee abstinence and brew myself a pot. For now, the empty counter holds space for my grief. It allows me to acknowledge that I can’t replicate what I’ve lost and that it’s okay to take my time adjusting to what is new. The scent of coffee may not fill my kitchen anymore on Saturday mornings, but I know the sweet fragrance of Rob’s life will linger always.

Published by Clarissa Moll

Discovering grace in grief

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