This past week has been a whopper, and not of the fast food kind. I recently mourned two losses on the same day — the fourth year anniversary of my father’s passing, and to be without a beloved friend who I met over 20 years ago. There are so many forms of grieving, and one in particular is to drink one’s self silly to numb the pain. It’s so easy to go to the local pub and get a powerful double IPA or something stronger. And repeatedly.
If you haven’t figured already,I am a big hophead and a lover of all things beer — not just the drinking of it but more the fascination of the science behind making it to the seemingly mundane bottling process. I don’t even have to drink it (blasphemy!) to enjoy pouring at brewfests and meeting brewmasters, distributors, volunteers and festival goers alike.
However, on this day last week whatever I ate had no taste. I chose not to drown my sorrows in one of my favorite things. Could I have had my beloved Ithaca Flower Power? Yes. Would it have taken the edge off? Yes. Would anything change? No. Weddings and funerals tend to be events where drinks are aplenty and the flow of the beer down the throat is sublime. This was not one of those times. If taste had a color, it would have been gray.
In Mexican tradition, there is a celebration called “Day of the Dead” (Día de los Muertos) on November 1st where the deceased are honored in a very unique way. Loved ones create an altar with a picture of the dead, decorate it with candles and marigolds. Later, they go to the cemetery, bringing the favorite foods of abuelo (grandpa) José whose spirit is in the sky. His family also brings tequila and beer to his grave site and eat, drink, talk, laugh and remember. While some may think it morbid or disrespectful to eat and drink on one’s grave site, I think, “how cool!” If you are ever in Mexico during this time of the year, you will see hundreds if not thousands of sugar skulls at the markets.
So as I mourn the loss of my father every year in a different way, and now the exit of my best friend, I appreciate being alive, able to taste the rich complexities and varieties of beers I have had and have yet to explore. To feel the first sip, to enjoy the last drop is to be thankful to be. So for dear old dad*, an Old Vienna is in order (if I can find one), and for my best friend one of his favorites, a hearty stout. Cheers to you my loved ones here, there and everywhere.