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Sometimes Grief Tastes Like Chocolate Ice Cream

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“Daddy, can we go for ice cream?”

The answer was always yes. Even when I didn’t finish my dinner the answer was yes. This was our ritual for years throughout my childhood.

When I was young, I thought all fathers took their daughters for ice cream at least once a week. When the summer evenings became hotter and hotter, my dad would pile us up in the car and take us to Carvel for ice cream.

dad and daughter at carvel

Take me into a Carvel and I am immediately transported to my childhood. My senses begin to dance with the aroma I can only describe as sweet vanilla heaven. Even if I’m not hungry, once I step foot into a Carvel ice cream shop I find myself wandering around for a scoop of ice cream feeling like a 5-year-old little girl again.

When my father lost his ability to eat from his cancer treatments, I lost a tremendous piece of me. Watching a parent endure a horrific illness is one of the most difficult things in the world. I stopped going into Carvel, stopped indulging in delicious treats. I spent four long years watching my father survive on a feeding tube. For a very long time I walked around angry, and because ice cream was such a big part of my childhood memories, Carvel became an innocent victim.

Grief makes a simple trip to a place like Carvel anything but simple. Carvel was loaded with landmines I was not ready to face. Abandoned rituals that were once fun are common in the land of grief.

But last week, for the first time in a very long time, I stepped foot in a Carvel. Just walking in there was a major accomplishment. I was positive the entire store could hear the sounds of my heart breaking all over again. Tears quietly began to roll down my cheek past my dark sunglasses. My hands began to tremble as I remembered what once was. And suddenly my grief let go, and I was able to remember my dad as he was. I was able to remember my dad before the cancer took over. I was able to stand in a Carvel and smile as I thought of my dad.

woman holding carvel ice cream cone

Eventually, the tight grip of grief will let go, even if for just a brief moment and you too will be able to remember your loved one as they once were.

My dad is no longer here, but I raise my ice cream cone to him. Chocolate ice cream with sprinkles brings me back to the sweet, cool, creamy taste of a simpler time.

This story originally appeared on Love Is Infinite.

Originally published: July 19, 2018
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