October 22, 2011

The Spirituality of Cheeseburgers

There are some strange laws in America, but no law is stranger and more widespread than allowing a prisoner about to be executed to have one last meal of their choice.

Most of the 50 states not to mention nations around the world allow a prisoner that last chance to savor life.

Much was made of this recently in Texas when Lawrence Russell Brewer, who was executed last month for the hate crime slaying of James Byrd Jr. more than a decade ago, asked for two chicken fried steaks, a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, a pound of barbecue, three fajitas, a meat lover’s pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts.

Prison officials said Brewer didn’t eat any of it. A Texas state official was infuriated by the excessive request and Texas has since rescinded the last meal law.

But it’s interesting to consider. What would your last meal be?I thought long and hard and would want the following:

-My Grandpa Bert’s split pea soup
-My Grandpa Bert’s gnocchi
-My fiancee’s mushroom risotto
-A pizza from Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix
-A steak from City Hall Steakhouse in Phoenix
-My Grandpa Bert’s Cremadoro dessert
-My mom’s blueberry pie
-2 Chimay beers
-A glass of 1997 Abreau Madrona Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon
-A banana chocolate shake from Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in NYC
-And last but not least, a hot cookie made by my friend Katrina Markoff with Vosges chocolate chips.


There was a great article last week about Emily Rapp, who has known from the day of giving birth, that her son (see photo) will die before his third birthday.

Her baby Ronan was born with Tay-Sachs, a rare genetic disorder.

Emily speaks for other parents of terminally ill children when she says, “We will prepare to lose them and then, impossibly, to live on after that gutting loss. This requires a new ferocity, a new way of thinking, a new animal. We are dragon parents: fierce and loyal and loving as hell.”

It’s the age-old message of Carpe Diem, expressed in very different ways by very different people: a dragon mom (Emily Rapp) and a convict (Lawrence Russell Brewer) both feeling the shadow of death, while entreating life for one last bite, one last hug, one last moment of beauty and deliciousness.

As Emily says of her precious moments with her son, “But today Ronan is alive and his breath smells like sweet rice…Parenting, I’ve come to understand, is about loving my child today. Now. In fact, for any parent, anywhere, that’s all there is.”

Could we not all stand to benefit from the ferocity of Emily Rapp?

I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to awaken your dragon..

…rain fire down on your worries, fears, hassles…

…so that you can kick back and indulge in the meal of your dreams. And do it as soon as possible. Because as Erma Bombeck said, “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”


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David Romanelli

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