Yesterday I woke to loud laughter and jumping on a bed. Most Saturdays the girls make their way downstairs fairly quietly, and flip on the tv or the computer. The excitement in the air on this particular morning was all about the Father-Daughter dance that evening…
After helping the girls get dressed, hair done, and bejeweled – I waved goodbye as they went out to dinner with John and I drove to the school to help with preparations for the event. I was happy to be a fly on the wall at the dance, peeking in at them dancing with John and their friends. John left early, 8:15ish, since Olivia was falling asleep; Caroline stayed with me until the end and helped us clean up.
When I got home, I checked the mail – there was an envelope from Capital Caring – the hospice service that cared for my mom. “You are halfway through the first year of life without your loved one”. As I read on, they described many of my thoughts and feelings of late – including “a greater need to express” yourself – is this where the seed for this blog was planted?
I pulled myself upstairs to get ready for bed and spotted a card on my bedside table. The cover was a beautiful Japanese-style reed of bamboo and the Emily Dickinson quotation was next to it. It was a card from John’s brother, Jeff. He’d given it to John at my mother’s funeral, John put it in his suit pocket and didn’t discover it again until last night after the dance.
Every day is a day of reminders of Mom – maybe not so “in your face” as yesterday, but I see her in everything. How she would have loved the pictures of the girls with John at the dance, the yoga class I took this morning, the knitting project I’m working on..she has achieved her immortality as she lives on in everything I see and do.
When I started this blog, I wanted to pretend it was about a cookbook or being a better baker, but it can’t help being about grieving. Hopefully not overtly, as I cringe at the self-indulgence. Maybe I can see the grief just as the waves that will buoy me up, carrying me to where I am supposed to go.
In another life, I taught ESL and lived in Brooklyn. I met my husband there and we have shared a love of food and cooking for many years. Now I find myself in Charlotte, North Carolina with two children, who aren’t so little anymore and a bit of time on my hands.
Last year there was no time for idleness or reflection. My mom was ill with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and it seemed to fill all headspace and time. Separated by a seven-hour drive, the time I wasn’t there, I worried and wished I were there; when I was there I was in that moment – there was no place else to be. My mother who loved food and could remember every meal she’d ever eaten could no longer swallow. One of the last things she ate was a chocolate doberge cake from Haydel’s bakery in New Orleans.
She passed away in June. My sister and I talked about a cookbook – compiling Mom’s recipes for everyone, but we weren’t able to think about it or do anything about it. Thanksgiving was the worst with her birthday just a day before. Christmas was a little better, then thank God, a brand new year.
I’ve started thinking about the cookbook, looking at publishers, organizing it, etc. There is a huge accordion folder of recipes that have been sitting in my basement for 8 months that I’m ready to go through.
For Christmas 2010, I gave myself Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” and fell in love with it. Not only did the food look beautiful, her writing was gorgeous. I remember sitting down for an hour just reading it. Recently, I heard her on NPR talking about “Tuesdays with Dorie” – a group of bloggers who have cooked their way through an entire cookbook together. So I thought that while I am working with my mom’s recipes, I would start expanding my own culinary skills with the group as they tackle “Baking with Julia”.
I plan to start baking with group in February…in the meantime I’m working on the cookbook and thinking that I’d like to have it done in June – the first anniversary of her death. It may be too ambitious – I guess we’ll have to see.
For me, writing it down is always a beginning – a committment, a promise to go forward. So, I wonder what will happen next?