An extraordinary week here at F.E.A.S.T. Headquarters. A week that took almost a year of preparation and in the end was both a surprise and entirely in keeping with what we do.
In sum: three conferences, and a funeral.
I left home last Thursday to help present at the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine in Washington DC. To the amusement of my three co-presenters and I, our early morning session only managed to attract one audience member for the whole session, and one for the second half.
We took home a fellow registrant, and dear friends, Rod McClymont and his son, to enjoy Virginia for a few days to relax before heading to our next conference.
I’m still rather shocked to say this, but that same night my dear mother-in-law, Doris Gazin, died in her sleep. As you can imagine, nothing is normal at these moments. We took a few days just to absorb the loss, and honor her. We could have taken a year. But she would not have approved of that at all.
She had been quite ill, but we went from caregivers to the grieving being taken care of, overnight.
Our guests rolled up their sleeves and cooked for us, comforted us, helped us reorganize, and supported us up to and through the funeral. There are people who will offer, and then there are the people who will simply figure out your dishwasher controls and move the wet clothes to the dryer and pull together a meal from what’s in the kitchen. We are so grateful.
And then our guests, and my husband, and parents, and daughter, all headed to New York City to join our many F.E.A.S.T. friends and volunteers at AED’s ICED conference.
I confess I was operating in an emotional fog, but with the support of everyone around my husband and I, I managed to hit
all most of my marks. As an exhibitor, a presenter, many meetings, all the social obligations, after four days learning and sharing and spreading the word about parent inclusion and F.E.A.S.T. among the 1500 top eating disorder community members, I watched from above my own head as I veered between being unable to form words, and bubbling up with far too many. Grief is weird. I felt weird. But I also felt steadied by Doris’ encouragement, and our last conversation when she wanted to hear everything about the coming week in New York, and approved my manicure. Doris believed in a good manicure.
Then it was time for FEAST of Knowledge, a day we have been planning for a year. And, it was sublime. Our community does such an amazing job. Our families and allies carried things, organized, fed, cleaned up, problem-solved, social media-ed, watched out for one another, and enjoyed one another’s company. We learned, we debated, we hugged.
I began the day by dedicating it to my mother-in-law, whose watch I wore and whose support I felt all day as well. She was such a supporter of F.E.A.S.T. and of my work as an advocate. She kept me strong all day. She believed in F.E.A.S.T, in carers, in family. Thank you, Doris. For everything. We are missing you so much, you fierce mom and grandmother and friend.