Okay. If you haven’t read The Opposite of Loneliness yet, I suggest that you leave your computer and go do that. (Or just read this post to catch up really quickly.) Seriously, guys. This isn’t the first time that I’ve mentioned this book, so you should probably just go read it now…
But if you truly have not gotten around to reading it, The Opposite of Loneliness is essentially a collection of stories, poems, and nonfiction essays by an incredibly talented young lady named Marina Keegan. Sadly, Keegan died in a car crash only a few days after her college graduation, making her words all that more poignant, if they weren’t already. The young lady had a worldliness about her that is hard to pinpoint but that is so evident in her words.
Keegan was an absolute shooting star of a writer: far, far too talented, she burned brightly and quickly. I would love to say that we have that in common, but I could never live up to the accolades that she had achieved in her short time here on Earth.
But there is one thing that I do share with her: we both have a food allergy. (Catch up on that discovery by clicking here.) She had Celiac’s disease, which meant that she couldn’t digest gluten. I have lactose intolerance plus a soy allergy, which basically means I can’t eat anything at all.
I was actually in the midst of diagnosing myself with the latter allergy when I was reading Keegan’s book. In her one essay, she talks about being unable to eat gluten, and explains that she already has a plan for her final meal. On her death bed, she will eat bread, and pasta, and pizza to her heart’s delight after being denied them for so long. She will gorge herself and then hopefully fall back onto the pillow at a ripe age and die peacefully.
In a very stark moment of realization, we all know that this event will never come to pass.
But I have to wonder: Is anyone really so lucky that they can set themselves up to go with all of the ceremony and dessert platters they want? In fact, I think death row inmates are quite blessed in that sense, in that they are given a proper, final meal, when most of us don’t know when ours will be. We’ll never know if the breakfast, lunch, or dinner we just ate will be our last.
So, what should we do? Especially those of us with food allergies. What if I never eat salty, melty, yummy cheese again?
Well, I can’t lie to you. Eating food that irritates my allergy hurts. It is absolutely unpleasant, and it affects my quality of life. I would obviously not choose to eat cheese or soy everyday, due to the repercussions.
But then again, Marina Keegan has shed some light on the matter: everything in moderation and probably not all at once. I think as long as your throat doesn’t swell up and you don’t need to be impaled with an epi pen, you should partake in the foods that make you happy once in awhile. Occasionally, your own happiness does trump your unruly stomach.
I mean, if I had to plan a grand feast for the end of my life, I would certainly invite macaroni and cheese, pesto, cheesesteaks, and bagels and cream cheese to the table. But I also need to remember to plan a little feast for now, just in case I don’t get the opportunity in the future.
The point is, if there is anything that Marina Keegan can teach us, it’s that it is absolutely useless to wait for what you really want out of life. Basically, eat the pizza while there is still time. (And if someone is able to make that into a bumper sticker, I will absolutely buy 10 of them on the spot.)