Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | July 26, 2014

in the shape of a heart


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Jeff as a parent. The relationship he had with our girl was — obviously, and naturally — different from the relationship I shared and share with either of the two of them, my family, my two best beloveds, the girl and her dad so much alike.

These days, I rarely shake my fist at heaven and curse him for leaving us as I once did. But I am often wistful, and sometimes tears brim, threaten to spill when I think about my fatherless daughter, and all she lost when he had to go.

She came to me with a problem the other day, and I wished so hard that her dad, the “Big Picture Guy”, Mr. Zen, was here to talk it through with her. I know his insights would have been helpful, and different from mine. It hurt so much that where his words and thoughts would be, there’s only emptiness, a big hole where he should be. And is not.

As we learned the hard way, in Anna’s words: “so many people were wishingwishingwishing for something and it didn’t help AT ALL.” That is perhaps the hardest thing to learn, and maybe even harder still to witness your own dearest darling struggle with it.


“The hardest lesson I have ever had to learn is that I will never know the meaning of my children’s pain, and that I have neither the capacity nor the right to take it away from them.” -Martha Beck


Recently something went her way – something important and positive. I heard of this stroke of good fortune while I was weighing out vanilla cake batter into heart shaped cake pans for a wedding anniversary cake order.
I thought, “What great news. I’ll bake a little celebration cake for her.”
Then I thought, “Nah, that’s silly, never mind.”
I thought, “Jeff would want me to make her a little cake. If there’s extra batter I will. Bake it in the shape of a heart, extravagantly frost, deliver to her.”


Jeff’s favorite was vanilla cake, chocolate frosting. If he were here, he’d be right at my elbow, nudging me, murmuring the incontrovertible argument: “DOOOOO it.”

There wasn’t extra batter. The number on the scale stared back at me. Not enough. Oh well.

I picked up the cake pan to put it in the oven. It felt too heavy. (After so many years weighing out cake batter there is a certain muscle memory in this work.)
It turned out I had set the pan wonky on the scale, so yes, there WAS extra batter. The weight of pan + cake is supposed to be 4.5 pounds. I turned off the scale and turned it back on, set the cake pan on it. Weight= 5.12. Our wedding date.

Okay baby, I will get right on it.

She likes chocolate frosting best, too.



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