I dreamed I was in an open meadow with a blanket of wild flowers. The light from the distant sunset made them glow like colored sea anemones. I was walking through them carefully, not wanting to break a single stem, when a pain hit my heart. It was so strong I fell to my knees and started wailing. I cried out her name over and over. I could not stop. The pain came in waves and my jaw ached from letting out the cries that only a bereaved Mom could understand. I woke up terrified and bawling, aching to hold my daughter.
There was only one slight problem with this dream…I never had the daughter I was crying for. She never showed up. After a short two years of an infertility scare, I was blessed to have three sons and a daughter. Then, we decided to try again. I knew there was another girl waiting to be with us. I felt her everywhere. I saw a vision of her in the temple. I knew the color of her hair and those soulful eyes. I would glance at my children around the table and feel her absence. I was impatient. We tried. We waited. We prayed. We considered adoption, but it never seemed right. My youngest is almost ten years old and this girl never came. Eventually, her strong presence faded and the space in the family dinner table filled in as children’s bodies grew into teenagehood. The absence was accepted —
Until the dream was dreamed…when the gaping hole opened up and I fell in with a deep enough love that can crumble a body.
Is it possible to love someone who never was?
Can we still love the absent father? the ignoring mother? Can we love the friend who sets the appointment but never arrives? How about the man you were “supposed” to marry who never appeared on the scene? Can we love through the letter that never came? the waited-for apology? the boy whose car never pulled into the driveway? Can we love the husband who forgets again the birthday or anniversary? the past-curfew teenager who we wait for in the dark? the answer to a prayer that never seemed to be heard? the child who chose not to be born? Perhaps the answer can be found in another question: Can we love our dearest friends who sleep on while pain racks our body so that we bleed onto the garden floor?
The heart is a resilient thing. Tell us your story of how you loved the person who never was or the thing that never showed up.
Some cakes I can bang out in under 3 minutes: measure, dump, stir, oil tin, whack in oven. But pavlovas tend to be a more meditative experience. Incredibly simple, only 2 ingredients for the actual pav (and really, you should call it a pav, it’s what we Aussies call it and it’s our unofficial dessert*), but with 2 double handfuls of opportunity to drift off into hushed dreams and gentle musings. Even when I’m in a rush to make one, I’m always side-tracked by the odd thought as I make the gorgeous meringue deliciousness.
Pavs are astoundingly easy to make, and hugely impressive as a dessert. The fact that they are a luscious confound of sweet, light, chewy and melting, let along the ability to dress up elegant or slouch for a casual event, makes it even more worth the simple (and wonderfully hands free) process. The meditation/daydreaming is an extra delight.
You can make pav with a handheld mixer, but a stand mixer is best, with a whisk attachment. You will need 4 egg whites (make sure there’s no egg yolk lurking in there), 1 cup of fine sugar (not confectioners or icing sugar – caster or white sugar’s fine, brown sugar is a lovely choice too) and that’s it for the actual pav. Seriously, just those ingredients. The decoration on top comes later and is totally up to your own preferences.
So, toss the egg whites into the stand mixer or bowl, and start whipping on medium speed. When they start to thicken just enough to see the beater marks left behind, add in a quarter cup of sugar. Meditation prompt: How on earth is this going to make a decent dessert? Think about other messes that turned out well. Mmmm, good desserts… remember great desserts of stomachs past. Continue reading
I sit next to the bathtub with an auger, trying to get out what is shaping up to be a phenomenal clog. It’s gross enough trying to get my own family’s hair out of the drain, but here I am working on a clog at someone else’s house. It is a tub belonging to a woman in my ward. As I twist the auger, I think to myself, “I’m just earning a few extra rooms in my mansion in Heaven.” I probably should be happy to do service for service’s sake, but no. I’m pretty nice, but not that nice.
The scriptures are full of promises of what will happen if we stay true and good during our lifetimes. It’s quite a popular topic at my house: what Heaven will be like. We’ll live in mansions, of course. Although everyone’s idea of their perfect house is different, so that should make things pretty interesting.
My children like to ask if there will be food in Heaven. I have to imagine so, because eating is so important in this mortal life. But maybe it will be eating just for pleasure’s sake, not for nutition, since our resurrected bodies won’t need that. Or maybe we’ll have something way more pleasurable than eating by that time. Or maybe we just won’t care. But it’s hard to imagine Heaven without warm chocolate chip cookies.
My Instagram feed is a perfect illustration of my dilemma: first, a photo of a runner, then a video of an abs workout, followed by pictures of gluten-free, paleo, vegan, Whole 30 or otherwise super-healthy eats, all interspersed with pictures of beautiful people eating ice cream, or cheeseburgers, or liege waffles topped with cookie butter and creme fraiche, or waiting in line for food trucks.
I like to eat. And I’m an unrepentant omnivore– I like all foods. I would not turn up my nose at a McDonald’s french fry, but I’m also not afraid of octopus or swiss chard. I grew up in an home where we ate cake for breakfast (then shaved off wafer thin slices for the rest of the day). Food is the main love language in my family of origin, and it’s quickly becoming the same with my kids: a great band performance is always followed by a trip to Nielsen’s Frozen Custard, a 5K with donuts.
So it should come as no surprise that for most of my life, I was on the somewhat chubby side of average. Then, after I had my last biological child eight years ago, I discovered Weight Watchers and marathon running at the same time, dropped 30 pounds, and thought I was set for life.
Not so. Continue reading
I sat in Sacrament meeting, watching the mother in front of me rip open a bag of fruit snacks. Five years ago I would have mentally tsk-tsk-ed and thought about how inappropriate it is to feed children in the chapel. I always prided myself on getting my children to behave without stuffing their mouths with snacks. I also prided myself on feeding my kids breakfast before we arrived at church, not during. I loved to turn up my nose at parents who treated Sacrament meeting like a little picnic.
Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that it really doesn’t matter if you break out food at church. Yes, it’s pretty unlovely to let your kids grind cheerios into the floor, but it doesn’t mean you’re a worse mom. Five years ago I would have disagreed from up on my high horse. Now I just smile at the mom in front of me with her five kids under age six and think, “do what you have to do. If fruit snacks are going to keep all seven of you from going ballistic at church then go for it.” Continue reading