If there is a heaven, they’ve definitely got a waffle iron.
Yesterday was my grandmother’s funeral. It was lovely. I know that’s a weird thing to say. Like a pleasant traffic jam or a functional Trump presidency. But it was. Lovely. And grandma would have approved. There were seven priests presiding over the mass for goodness sakes. She would have liked that.
It was nice being at a funeral that didn’t feel tragic. She was 97, had almost all of her mental faculties, and died in her own home. “We should all be so lucky” said one of the seven priests. He was right. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to preside over the funeral of a person who died too young, or had been sick for a really long time. To try and make sense of God’s plan to people in grief. It must feel like being the owner of a dog after it bites someone or pees on the rug:
Dog Owner: “I’m sorry, he usually isn’t like this.”
Bite Victim: Really? It’s just me he does this to? Great.
Dog Owner: Let us pray.
End of play.
This funeral didn’t have any of that. It was a celebration of a life well lived and a peaceful death. Of course I’ll miss grandma but the sadness I felt was more about the inevitable passage of time. That no matter what we do, that is the fate awaiting all of us. My parents. My sisters. My friends. Me. My fight against cancer is simply trying to postpone the inevitable conclusion. And no matter how successful my treatment is, that will one day be me. I’m just trying to extend the game as long as I can.
Because there is more life I want to be a part of.
Which brings me to the waffle iron.
My family and I stayed at the Sleep Inn in Mount Olive, NC. I woke up early and went downstairs to the lobby. I have to admit, my expectations for the breakfast were low. Maybe that’s the key. Don’t expect much and be surprised by what you get. I thought there would be a continental breakfast. Some white toast and a Sara Lee Muffin or two.
I could not have been more wrong.
There was a fucking spread! They had eggs, bacon, sausage patties. There was a cereal dispenser with five different types of cereals. There was fruit and yogurt and various juices. There were of course the Sara Lee Muffins, but there were also danishes, sticky buns and toasts of different sorts. You could have gone white bread, english muffin, whole wheat. There were pouches of instant grits and oatmeal next to packets of ketchup, hot sauce and honey. The whole area was spotless, kept clean by this friendly helpful staff.
But there in the middle of all these delightful culinary options was the crown jewel of the hotel lobby breakfast:
The Waffle Iron.
From about 2008-2012 I was on the road almost every weekend doing stand up. I stayed in a lot of cheap hotels. No matter how shitty the hotel it was magically transformed the minute I saw they had a waffle iron. It was an event!
No matter what had happened the night before, if I had a good set or a bad set, if I was sober or hungover, if I was lonely and just wanted to get home, a waffle would make every thing better. Temporarily. It had the same effect that morning at the Sleep Inn in Mount Olive.
Making those waffles makes me feel like I accomplished something. All I have to do is pour that batter in the middle, flip that bad boy over, and two minutes later I feel like a three star Michelin Chef. I drizzled syrup over that Belgian beauty like I’m finishing a plate a Le Cirque.
It seems so small, but it was just the distraction I needed. Because I wasn’t the only one enjoying this culinary achievement. My sisters were as well. My mom finished making hers and then showed an eight year old on a church trip how to make his. My dad sat at the head of this table watching his family laugh and eat.
The next morning, after the funeral, before my parents, sisters and I headed in our separate directions, we were right back there at the free breakfast. Right back enjoying those waffles. Just the six of us. For the first time in I can’t remember how long. For the last time in who knows when. We ate and we laughed.
Brought together by life.
Reunited by death.
Soothed by the Belgian Waffles.