Eighteen months ago I bought six big bags of frozen peas. They were on stand by in case I had to put them on my nails to prevent them from falling off, due to the side effects of chemotherapy. But because the hospital provided me with ice packs, I never did have to bring my own vegetables.
So they sat in the fridge.
And tonight as I was leafing through recipes, I asked Jim if he’d prefer his smoked salmon farfalle with capers, or peas. He looked surprised. ‘We don’t have any peas,’ said he. I was even more surprised. I’d been looking at peas every day since Autumn 2011, when I went on a manic shopping spree. How could he have missed them? They’ve been a fixture in the fridge, right alongside the ice, blueberries, and frozen shrimp. We had a friggin’ pea wall in our fridge and a bag usually fell on my toes every time I reached for the frozen vodka.
So I started rooting around to see what else was hiding in the icebox. A year ago it looked like a chemo fridge, and was jammed with every manner of homemade soup, and frozen salmon fillets and loaves of banana bread. But now it was nearly back to normal.
So I grabbed a bag of peas and slammed it against the counter. I opened it and shook out a few chunks, and a few tiny green balls fell to the floor. Did they not want to be eaten?
Peas had been my backup for cancer care for so long, that they were as trustworthy and dependable as my aloe gel and my painkillers. I’ve done a major house cleaning of things that I don’t need. All my headgear is long gone, and the wig is tucked away until it can be put to good use. Aloe gel is in a pretty box, on hold for my next surgery, and the painkillers have all been dispensed of – they serve no purpose and I don’t like having them around.
And now I feel the same way about the peas. Right now, my life is the most normal it's been for a while. That will change soon, when I will again need the pills, and soups, and compresses, and pound cake, and Oprah, Phil, Ellen, Anderson, and Dr. Oz. But for today a pea is just a pea and it will be used in the way the Good Lord intended.