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“There is more pain in not knowing than there is in knowing sometimes” his father said as he tapped him on the shoulder, tears flowing down his cheeks. His father gave him a tissue to clean himself up

The empty coffin was lowered into the grave, time itself seemed to have stopped as he watched it go lower into the bleak hole, before the Priest invited everyone to throw gravel onto the coffin, paying their final respects, before they were to make peace with the death.

The problem was however, that the body had not been found. He noticed how his father was coping so well on the surface level, his life partner was presumed dead during active service which was unusual. He had heard his dad say a few times to relatives that he assumed it was ‘friendly fire’, but he had never known fire to ever be friendly and didn’t understand what it could mean.

It was hard adapting to life without mum. His dad wasn’t the best cook and there is only so much tinned food you can eat before you end up wanting to skip meals on a regular basis. The good thing was that throughout her time serving, relatives had always helped his father out by cooking meals and sending them via the post but since the funeral, they stopped within a matter of weeks.

He then found a leaflet on the street one day returning from a short walk in the park which explained the benefits of fasting. It was handed out by healthy life activists, but the leaflet he found must have been thrown away by an uninterested member of the public, who may or may not have taken the leaflet for politeness sake.

After reading the leaflet, he had a realisation. ‘There is a difference between fasting and starving’, he thought, ‘fasting is for a higher purpose, so I will fast for mum’

He told his father of his intentions and was met with a polite head nod and a smirk, ‘There are worse ways you can say I’m not as good a cook as your mum or your aunts I suppose’

The fast lasted for 8 hours before he gave in by eating a packet of cheese and onion crisps. There was only so much longer he could take preoccupying his weekend time after watching the news on TV, soaking in the words of the doom and gloom prophets, cartoons to pacify his mind and seeing the sports stars roll on the floor from minimal contact.

He decided he would cook after that. It was a generous build up, he started off finding old seasoning in the cupboard and adding it to the tinned beans he was forced to eat at his father’s request. He asked him if he could cook instead and his father agreed, ‘Sure son, do whatever you feel the need to do’

As time went by, he improved his skills and was reading three cooking books a week. The kitchen gave him peace and an escape from whatever was occurring outside. As he got older he remembered words his father always told him when he had made an exquisite dish, ‘Never forget son, that there are so many who want to change the world, but will refuse to wash the dishes’

He grew old and eventually left home, and started to take a cooking course in university and after the three long years he decided he would open his own restaurant which would show a variety of culinary expertise he had picked up along his years training. He secured funding from angel investors after explaining his life story and the reason he wished to pursue the business adventure. There were no points, that when he gave his pitch, unrehearsed, that faces would remain stern. Each hard hearted businessman who heard his story, as he told it, were moved to tears and pledged to assist in helping him.

On the day the business opened, his father came and saw it first. With tears in his eyes, he hugged his son and congratulated him for his success

“Your mum would be proud” he whispered in his ear before giving him a kiss on the cheek.

The restaurant was a success and expanded into a franchise with multiple branches across the city, serving foods from all over the globe. After five years, he had expanded to seventy restaurants in three continents and was interviewed on TV about the success.

“How did you do this?” he was constantly asked by the journalists

Smiling, he replied, “The kitchen became my safe haven. It was the only time I had found the thing which had caused me so much pain also brings me so much joy. I decided to name the restaurant ‘Friendly Fire’ because of what it represented, it was the rumour my father would say what happened to my mum when she was serving in the Army, and the first time the flame lit up when I turned on a stove, the fire became my friend. It all went from there and the passion followed. Now that we’ve expanded, we can continue our good work, helping veterans as well as spreading awareness about military life. I just hope my mum is proud of me”