Memories From a Loved One Live On: Last Ravioli Left in a Pan on the Stove Reminded Me of My Husband

Our loved ones live on in so many ways. Five years after the death my husband, I still think of him daily. Moments appear that brings waves of sadness and joy and the most important experience of all; a knowing that he is always near.

I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen to make breakfast. Last night. I left a pan of dinner on the stove for my daughter who would be returning from work after the rest of us were in bed. As I picked up the pan to wash it with a few other dishes, I saw it. One ravioli and one carrot. She had eaten everything except for one ravioli and one carrot.

Standing in the kitchen, staring at the ravioli, I had a wave of remembrance. A slow smile parted my lips and I surprised if this was in her DNA. She was only 12 years old when her father died. I do not think she could have remembered this habit of his. It could not have been environmental. It had to be encoded in her DNA.

My husband had been a great leftover eater. He was self-employed with a used car lot and auto mechanic shop less than one mile from our home. He worked a variety of hours. He would go to work early in the morning to open the shop, or late at night to complete a car sale or work on a car. Hurley, my husband, would pop home in the afternoon for a bite to eat, standing in front of the refrigerator looking for the oldest leftovers. I would guide him to the plastic containers of different shapes and sizes. He would grab a fork from the drawer to mix casseroles and side dishes and stand there eating the food cold. Standing in the kitchen, he would tell me the latest stories from work, laughing between forkfuls of food.

On the nights when he worked late and the rest of us were already tucked in bed, he would eat the leftovers and always leave a few bites in the containers. A few bites of lasagna, a piece of cake, one ravioli, one carrot. I asked about that curious habit one day and he replied that he left it for me. As he ate the food, he thought I might have gone to bed with thoughts of eating the food the next day. It was an act of kindness. He thought I might have wanted the last piece of cake and he did not want me to be disappointed when I looked in the refrigerator and it was gone.

Today as I stand in the kitchen and Out of habit, I ate the last piece of ravioli and the last carrot, as if it had been saved it for me. I thought about the little moments of kindness and it reminded me to pay attention. It is the simple moments of love and kindness that we remember. A touch of the hand, a kind word, a smile, and one ravioli left in a pan.