Friendship is a Pan of Stouffer’s Lasagna

“I’m disappointed in you”, the most excruciatingly painful sentence a person can be told by someone they care about.

It surpasses “I hate you”, “Goodbye” or “I’ll never forgive you.” It means that that person held you in a higher regard than you could ever think, and now you’re falling from grace at an accelerated speed that simply cannot be calculated with one of Newton’s formulas.

“I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.”

That is what you said to me. And damn, it hurt. There is a particularly unique pain that comes along with knowing that you are going to let someone down, in the moments right before you do. In all honesty, you did not even need to tell me you were disappointed, because I already knew I was being disappointing. The dagger that those words plunged in my heart had to enter at a weird angle, because the dagger arrived first and took its place at dead centre.

Technology is cool, because
I was able to read those words on a screen, instead of having to hear you say
them aloud. I do not know if I could stand hearing them aloud. After I read
them, I told myself that I would get out of bed. I would pack a bag of clothes,
set an early alarm for tomorrow, and I would surprise you doing the thing that
I said I could not. Going to beat the disappointment.

Instead, I let my phone screen lock shut, and allowed my room to go completely black. I couldn’t get my legs to move or force my thumbs to message you back all of the apologetical thoughts that I had running through my head, or the big explanation behind it all. Tears rolled out of the corners of my eyes, down my temples, and nestled in my ears as I stared up into the darkness that was my ceiling. Swear I stayed in that position all night, just looking up into the void feeling everything and nothing all at once. I was paralyzed by something that was even stronger than disappointment.


“Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.”

“Depression” and “Disappoint” both have three syllables. What a coincidence; just one more characteristic that makes them linked. This was one of the thoughts that pulsed through my mind during that long night of immobility. Compared and contrasted and over-thought until the darkness of my room had turned into a grey, and I knew that if I were going to beat the disappointment, I would have to get up right then.

Remember breathing and begging my legs to move. I thought that if I could focus enough to wiggle my big toe, like Uma Therman in the first Kill Bill, then I would be able to will my legs to swing over the side of my bed, slide my feet into their shoes, and then carry me to my car, where they would press down on the gas pedal for long enough that I would arrive at your house, and leave the disappointment far behind me. Unfortunately, I was not as strong as The Bride. No matter how much I concentrated, or begged, or cried, I could not wiggle my big toe. When I shifted my concentration towards the upper half of my body, I realized that I could move my hands. I used them to finally reply to your message from the night before.

“I’m sorry. I just woke up, and I tried to get out of bed– I really tried, but I can’t. Wish I could be there, but I can’t even make myself get up. Swear it took so much for me to even send this message. I’m so sorry.”

You were the first person I talked about the feelings that were taking over my mind and my body, about the depression and the disappointment. Before that moment, I kept them trapped in my thoughts, tiptoeing around a great lake of an issue that I was trying to pretend was a rain puddle. Deep down, I knew that I knew what was happening with me, and I could put my blinders on and act like I did not see the depths of that oceanic puddle, but in that moment, I peeked over the edge, and the inside of that puddle was just like a Magic 8-Ball. It was a dense blue, the kind that comes from either too many drops of food colouring, or an immeasurable deepness that the light cannot pierce completely. Through the waters, up popped a triangular prism, and when it is face settled, it read “Tell Her.” Knew you would get it, because you always do, but that didn’t stop the disappointment that was from me, and to me, and beyond.

I fell asleep after that, exhausted from ceiling staring, Atlantic puddle gazing, and Uma Therman impersonating. I woke up to the sound of my dad knocking on my bedroom door.

“You have a package here. Some kid came by and dropped it off while I was watering the grass. Did you order something? I’ll leave it out here by your door.”

My room was a deep orange at this point in the day, and the pain in my side told me that I had to get up anyways or make the choice between peeing all over my bed sheets or getting a UTI. Once I made it to my door, I opened it to see a large brown paper bag that had a few dark splotches forming at the corners. I picked up the bag, and it was heavy, and cold. The dark spots were wet patches. I brought it into my room and set it on my bed. I put my hand inside the bag and pulled out an entire family-size Stouffer’s Lasagna. It was still chilled from its trip from the grocery store to my bedroom. There was no note, no receipt, no return mailing address. Just a mystery lasagna in a slightly soggy paper bag.

At that moment, my phone buzzed from its place besides my pillow. I moved to check it, and as I did, I realized that this was the most I had moved on my feet in two days. For some reason, my legs started to work again, just as this lasagna arrived. “Did someone just drop something off at your house?” you asked in your text. “You might have to check your porch and see if it’s out there.”

“Did you send me a lasagna?” I replied.

“Yeah, I know it’s your favorite and I figured, since you probably haven’t really been eating, that I could send you some comfort food.”

“Can’t believe you sent me a lasagna,” I said. “This is the kindest thing someone has done for me in months– maybe even forever ever.”

“Glad you like it, don’t forget to eat it!” you said. For the first time in at least two days, I left my room to head somewhere other than the bathroom. I carried the lasagna against my chest as if it were a new library book I had just checked out. Like it was precious, and valuable, and full of possibilities because it was. I do not know if other people rank their lasagnas in order of importance, but this was the most important lasagna of my life. It was more important than the one some guy’s mom made on my first real date, more important than any one of the ones I have ever eaten on my birthday, and even more important than the first lasagna I ever had.

My legs carried me all the way to the kitchen and didn’t falter once. There were no thoughts in my head begging me to return to bed, no cement slab in my stomach telling me that I cannot eat, and no tears bubbling up in my eyes preventing me from reading the instructions on the back of the box. I was just a girl, in a kitchen, about to make a lasagna.

There are four simple steps to preparing a Stouffer’s lasagna:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Put the lasagna in the oven and bake for 80 minutes.
  3. Take the top foil off and bake for five more minutes.
  4. Take the lasagna out of the oven and eat.

Here were my four simple steps to preparing a Stouffer’s lasagna:

      1. Be honest with myself.

      2. Be honest with my friend.

      3. Accept the help, the kindness, the love, and the friendship.

      4. Eat my first meal in two days, and realize that true friendships will exist and prevail throughout all of the “Disappoint” and “Depression” and any other three syllable words that may try and come between them.

~ ~ ~

Dedicated to Casey Rose Dooley. Thank you for the years of friendship.

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