Some of the ladies from the church my mum and I attend brought us dinner this week. They did it as a way to give me a break from the household duties I've been shouldering while my mum heals from her surgery. The gesture of dinner alone would have been enough, but these women don't do anything casually. They brought a main dish, three sides, dessert, fruit, a salad, and a loaf of freshly baked bread. Oh, and did I mention that the macaroni and cheese, chocolate cake, and bread were all gluten free? These ladies not only provided my mum and I with a hot meal, but they went even further to make it one that I could enjoy fully.
I've said it before, but often, celiac is a diet of exclusion. Particularly when control of the menu isn't in my hands. More often than not, when someone else cooks for me, they omit the things I can't eat. That in and of itself is perfectly acceptable. I'd rather someone not serve me something they are unsure is safe for me to eat as it saves us both the awkwardness of trying to find out or the embarrassment of guessing wrong. But these kind women didn't omit side dishes or desserts, and instead went to the extra effort of tracking down and preparing items that were both safe and delicious. To say I was touched doesn't being to express my gratitude.
Since my diagnosis, I've learned more about appreciating such simple gestures. It brings a smile to my face to know that there's a six pack of Redbridge waiting for me at my boyfriend's apartment, or that someone made the extra trip to the grocery store to buy gluten free bread mix so I could have fresh bread with my meal. Or when my aunt makes two versions of her baked ziti so I can share a meal with the family. There is no reason for anyone to do any of these things except love. They care for me and want me to be healthy and happy, and so they ask questions, read labels, clip magazine articles, and share recipes.
So many people ask me, "How can you live with that?" when I tell them of my disease. Simply put, I live with it because of people like those women from church and my family and friends. I live with it because the people in my life make it feel less like a burden and more like an opportunity. My diagnosis teaches me everyday the depths of human generosity and compassion. Compared to those things, a slice of bread means very little. When I said that celiac is more than just a diet, that it was a lifestyle change, I meant it. I just didn't know my life would be the first of several to change because of it.