At Least You’ve Got Meatballs

Posted on November 24th, 2013

stellazbAs human beings, we have a natural desire to comfort others. We want to find the right words that will ease a friend’s pain. Especially with men, if something’s broken, we want to say something that will fix it. We’re not that great at silent empathy.

So when there is a great pain, many people feel the need for even greater words. Yet the problem is, sometimes, there are simply no words. When a man loses his wife, when he loses his best friend of almost three decades, when he feels that his heart has been shattered into a thousand pieces — sorry but nothing you can say will make any difference.

But what people don’t realize is that it’s ok. I know that no words can comfort me, but just seeing friends is enough. There is no need for words. But still, some people feel they must try.

So one day there is a knock at my door. A very close friend is there and I don’t think he expected me to answer the door myself. He was holding this big pot in both hands. He looked at me and his mouth opened. I could tell he was desperately trying to figure out what to say. He knew that “hey Yarden, how’s it going?” was not going to work. So after a few seconds, he shrugged his shoulders and indicating the pot said:

“Well, at least you’ve got meatballs.”

As soon as he said it I could tell he was kicking himself inside. (And I think when he told his wife she kicked him outside.)

And you MIGHT think that this was the dumbest thing one could possibly say in the situation.

But it wasn’t. It was actually the most brilliant. It was the most honest.

Because at the end of the day, I have an utterly incomprehensible loss. But if there is one bit of comfort that I can draw on, it is that I am surrounded by people who care deeply about me and will do anything to try and lessen the pain.

Meatballs are not just meatballs. They are an example of doing chesed — being kind, something that was always at the center of Stella’s life. The week before she died she told me to tell a pregnant friend that she was so sorry that she would not be able to cook her a chesed meal. Stella loved being able to cook meals and help anyone who was in need or in distress.

So YES — while we have lost so much that can never be replaced, the fact remains — at least we do have meatballs.

And we do like those meatballs.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel


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  1. Ruthie Benamou says:

    Brilliant and beautiful. Glad they were good!

  2. Iris says:

    Reading this made me laugh. You know, if i could, and if they didn’t charge all
    those customs fees on your end, I would send you a million meatballs!

  3. linda dempster says:

    YOU still amaze me and Stella sure was a lucky woman. You gave her everything she ever needed or wanted and you don’t disappoint. So lets toast to meatballs in Stella’s honor.

  4. Carla says:

    Perfectly said but I now will tell you a meatball story that will make you smile. I was making Stan a surprise party for his birthday. I make a ton of meatballs and was giving them to my friend Shelley to keep in hiding. My children carried them across our backyard, across the street to Shelleys. Only glitch was that they dropped them on our neighbors freshly cut grass lawn. Shelley called and asked what to do. Together we decided to wash the meatballs, cover them with sauce and serve them. No one was the wiser.

  5. Judy Simon says:

    Thank you for posting this Yarden. We made a shiva visit because Stella touched us, you touched us, your relationship did too. But there was NOTHING at all that I could ever say in the visit that would bring comfort to you, because only Stella’s coming back alive could do that. And that will have to wait until techiyat hamaytim (ressurection, which will occur post-redemption). I walked out kicking myself for saying stupid things and for not having thought of one comforting thing to say to you.
    This post tells me that it’s ok. There’s nothing to say, and you know that. Still, the visit tells you that two more strangers are hurting too for Stella’s passing, and perhaps that’s all I can say.