We spent that winter swallowing grief and picking at Donegal Oatcakes with globs of creamy butter and cried between savory spoonfuls of delicate chawanmushi.
We spent that winter in dark little rooms with floor to ceiling windows curled beneath sheepskin blankets. I’d pull merino wool socks over my toes, put a record on real soft, and eat caramels with her in a large reading chair in the corner of the house. We read lots of books that winter — mostly ones with yellowed pages that we’d pick up from the used bookstore on Brooke Street. She’d scroll notes in the margins with felt tip pens and write poetry that went on for pages. One night she spilled coffee on “A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man” by James Joyce and spent the evening blowdrying the sopping wet pages so she could keep reading along.
We spent that winter swallowing grief and picking at Donegal Oatcakes with globs of creamy butter and cried between savory spoonfuls of delicate chawanmushi. Food wasn’t the answer, but it seemed to help. I made every recipe from her mother’s cookbook. Long evenings in the kitchen when the moon hung low in the sky and she sank into the couch with chamomile tea. Bûche de Noël. Spinach balanzoni with brown butter and sage. Pear cake with honey and spelt. Cheese Gougères.
Some afternoons I’d find her on the balcony with her face tucked into the folds of her cashmere sweater. We’d talk for hours — overcome by a pang of nostalgia that swept over her like a wave. Summers in Nebraska picking rust colored Blackeyed Susans and Apricot Mallows. Chasing Painted Lady Butterflies around the yard barefoot. Raggedy sundresses. Blanched almonds.
She kept saying she was thankful for her struggle because she never knew an ache like this was possible.