The kitchen table seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle between us, blocking our words as effectively as a glass wall. It was onto this seemingly innocent block of wood that my mother dropped Ben and Jerry, the two men in my life whom I have ever trusted completely. I figured she knew what she was doing when the ice cream was followed by a single spoon; I wasn’t so sure when she promptly turned her back and walked out of the kitchen, but I wasn’t about to follow her. Instead, I pushed the carton towards my sister, who hadn’t moved during my mother’s appearance.
“You first,” I told her grudgingly.
As she dug into the pint, I heard a small sigh escape her lips. It was like watching a starving person at first – like the ice cream was the only thing that kept her from falling apart right then and there. After a while she remembered to look up at me and explained between bites. She and her boyfriend had been fighting, she told me. That was why she had snapped at me. And she was honestly sorry, and she just felt so helpless sometimes, and had I ever felt that way, too?
She was startled when she looked down to find the ice cream halfway gone. I could tell she wanted to keep going, but she dutifully slid the carton across the table with a wistful look and a small, “Your turn.”
I told her I had. And I told her how awfully my day had gone, and how her comments were the cherry on top of three papers, a lab experiment gone awry, and falling down the stairs. Again.
She gave a watery chuckle at that last bit before clapping a hand over her mouth, afraid she’d hurt my feelings again. I waved her off, too tired to take offense. We’d both had rotten days, to be sure, and both of us would try to convince the other that we’d each been worse off, but it was nice to sit down and have someone to talk to, and at least pretend to understand. To have someone put their own concerns aside and take care of someone else for a change. To bond over a pint of mint chocolate chip.
I truly believe that ice cream cures all ills.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.