Tonight I discovered something about myself that should have been pretty obvious: The fact that our family has donuts for breakfast each Saturday is more than a treat for me. It’s an emotionally comforting ritual with deep roots.
In college, during Mark’s and my stint as singing waiters, Saturday mornings were our time to rehearse the music for our weekend dinner shows. Larry Kussatz, the owner of Carver’s Restaurant and our music director, would always have fresh pots of coffee and platters of donuts ready for us at 9 a.m. We each had our favorite selections – donuts and songs – and we each counted on this weekly ritual, just as we counted on each other to fill in the melody or harmony of our particular vocal part.
As Mark and I reconnected tonight with Pamela Cross Samuels, one of a select few who knows what it felt like to be a Carver’s Singer, I found myself grateful for the comfort my Saturday donut continues to bring me each week. I also found myself hoping that Pam has something similar to comfort her at the end of weeks when she might feel at bit overwhelmed at times.
In the years since we entertained diners at Carver’s (Craig Bennett being such a patron), we’ve all experienced some fairly daunting life detours. The most dramatic part of Mark’s and my detour story is connected to Stross’ birth, as recounted in Involuntary Joy. Yet Pam’s and Craig’s lives have also been defined by moments that are equally as book-worthy.
For instance, HIV has detoured Craig’s life plans while leukemia has detoured Pam’s. Her diagnosis came six months after losing her mother to cancer and seven years after becoming a single mother. Yet it’s clear that Pam refuses to have her life defined by chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), single-parenthood or life without her mother.
As we lingered tonight – laughing over who we were back then and how we lived out our more naïve existences – we affirmed the rhythm of life and the transcendent power of love. We helped transport each other to happier times, silently acknowledging a fierce, if unspoken, love for one another along with an inability to fully recognize that love for what it is.
Tonight we affirmed there is nothing that can diminish the power of life itself. Not physical and intellectual disabilities, not HIV, not singleness, not single parenthood, not the loss of a parent, not the loss of a job - not even chronic myelogenous leukemia.
And certainly, if we ever experience a week when we begin to feel diminished or overwhelmed, we can count on the revival that Saturday morning donuts and a fresh pot of coffee might bring. Emotional comfort with deep roots. “What would I do without my music? What would I do without my song? What would I do without my music, to pick me up when everything seems wrong?”
Love to you, Pam. Thanks for the memories. And, thanks to you, too, Craig! Let’s do it again. Soon. Life’s way too short. (Don’t we know it!)