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March 25, 2013
Life on Planet Kathy
A Taste for the Future
by Kathryn H. Kidd

I have always had an excellent sense of taste. Part of that comes from being born in New Orleans, where even young children were expected to eat anchovies, oysters, capers, okra, kumquat, and eggplant. I was a food snob by the time I was six years old. It has always been more important to me to eat one bite of something that is stellar than to eat a whole meal of inferior food.

When I got married, Fluffy and I continued our food snobbery. We avoid McDonald’s like the plague. Our favorite restaurants are Brazilian, where I eat collard greens and farofa while Fluffy fills up on hearts of palm. My favorite meal is a single Dungeness crab, which takes two hours to break apart and consume. You get the picture.

So when I awoke from a medically-induced coma back in December and realized my taste buds weren’t working, I was somewhat concerned. I couldn’t taste anything, so I decided not to eat at all.

The doctors who were treating me did not like the idea that I wasn’t eating, so they plied me with the best food they could give me. I had a tracheostomy at the time, so they wouldn’t let me eat real food. Everything was put in a blender and pureed, and then — get this — the kitchen staff shaped the food the way it would have been shaped if it hadn’t been put through a blender.

It was artfully done. Carrots were put in little carrot shapes, and mystery meat was put in the shape of a steak. I like a good steak, but putting mystery meat in the shape of a t-bone didn’t fool me for a minute. Oddly enough, I was never served mashed potatoes (one of the few foods that is already in pureed form), but was given ground white turkey meat that looked like potatoes. I continued my practice of non-eating, to the frustration of the doctors and the dieticians.

The only way I ate at all was to drink an occasional bottle of Ensure. The doctors fed three of them to me per day, but I often forgot to drink them. The taste was okay, only because I had never tasted Ensure before and didn’t have anything to compare the flavor to. But “okay” had never been good enough for me as far as food was concerned before I got sick, and it still wasn’t enough to entice me to eat.

Eventually Fluffy started bringing food to me. It was an odd assortment. I really developed a taste for Jell-O, which lasted for several weeks. (I had not eaten Jell-O for decades.) He fed me yogurt, but I hadn’t had a taste for yogurt before the coma and I still didn’t have one. It tastes too darn healthy.

He brought me soup, and that was sometimes successful. I could eat a cup of soup at a time, which meant a big food day for me. But fruit didn’t work. Most foods tasted off, and I no longer had a taste for even Pepsi or chocolate.

One Sunday, our home teachers brought the sacrament to me in the hospital. As they put the bread on the tray, I got a glimpse of it. It was the most beautiful bite of bread I had ever seen. There were at least two pumpkin seeds in that little scrap. It looked to have been made of a different flour — rye, perhaps. The crust glistened so brightly that I knew it had been treated with an egg wash.

I know you aren’t supposed to get excited about the sacrament bread, at least from a food perspective, but that bite of bread was so beautiful that I couldn’t help it. When I finally put it in my mouth, though, it tasted like a balloon that was being inflated. It kept growing and growing in my mouth until I couldn’t swallow it. I started fanning my mouth the way people do when food is too hot. The home teacher asked if everything was all right. Eventually I swallowed the bread, but it wasn’t easy. Food just had that kind of effect on me.

I lost nearly a hundred pounds while I was hospitalized. I don’t look any different to me, and you probably wouldn’t notice a difference either. But I had just purchased a new wardrobe of blouses the week before I got sick, and they barely buttoned in the front. Now there’s at least twelve inches of slack in the tightest one, so apparently the scales haven’t lied.

Now that I’m home and recuperating, my taste buds are starting to come back from vacation. Chicken still tastes weird to me, and I still can’t eat fruit except for berries. Chocolate tastes off to the point that I can’t eat it, and I’m not even going to try Pepsi. Who needs the calories?

We had a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage, and it was hard for me to eat the cabbage. Bummer. Cabbage has always been one of my favorite vegetables, and cabbage cooked with corned beef is the best cabbage of all.

A friend whose daughter had chemo as a teenager said this also happens to people who have chemotherapy. Marcia assured me that my taste buds would fully recover, just as they did with her Christine. I’m looking forward to that.

You see, I still remember how foods are supposed to taste. Each food has a different substance and texture. The spices have their unique aromas and essences. I don’t want to forget all that. I want to be reunited with all these magnificent flavor experiences again before I forget how wonderful they are.

I think this is similar to our relationship with God. We all came from a place where we knew Him intimately. He was our sun and our air. That relationship with Him was life-giving. He was the most important facet of our existence.

Then we came to Earth. We couldn’t see God, or even remember Him. We couldn’t even feel His love without making an effort to do so. All sorts of distractions were put in our way. We had joys and sorrows, trials and achievements. Every scrap of life — the good and the bad — puts noise in our ears, so to speak.

With all the commotion, it’s no surprise that so many people lose their taste for God. They may know He exists, but they forget how central He is to our lives and to our souls. They may have a distorted sense of what God even is, forgetting that He, above all, is our loving Father. They may feel that something is missing in their lives, especially when they are going through hard times. They may even know that the missing thing is God, but they don’t know how to make a connection with Him — just as I still can’t taste chocolate even though I try.

I may remember what chocolate tastes like, but none of us fully remember what being in the presence of God feels like. That is something that must be rediscovered on the other side of the veil. But we can get enough of a taste for Him here that we may no longer fear death, but will look forward to being reunited with Him.

Our remembrance of God has to be cultivated with prayer and study and good works and faith. If we make the effort here, our rewards will be immeasurable. Once we are back with Him, all the church meetings and scripture study and other labors of living the gospel will be a drop in the bucket compared to the joy of that heavenly reunion.


Copyright © 2024 by Kathryn H. Kidd Printed from NauvooTimes.com