Sometimes life is really hard to figure out.
To be honest, sometimes life is impossible to figure out. And while accepting that can be a source of peace--one of those "it’s out of my control" things--it’s during the particularly trying times that I am reminded of how difficult it is to accept.
My words today are for Mrs. D, a beautiful woman I have known for 30 years. She’s the dear mother of my best friend, and she passed away last week after a courageous and hard-fought battle with cancer. Somehow, writing about her in this space had to be part of my grieving. I want you to know her.
I want you to know that she threw the most memorable Halloween birthday parties for her daughter when we were younger. I could never get over how her dining room table converted into an overflowing spread of cupcakes, candy, and other special treats. I’ll never forget how she let me be the first in line to bob for apples (because I’m sure I was being a brat) even though my face was painted--a fact that forced her to change the water AND the apples before anyone else took a turn. She’s the reason that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.
I want you to know how she worked backstage, waiting in the wings, at every one of our dance recitals. Her’s was the last voice we heard saying "break a leg!", and the first voice to congratulate us after we were done. And her’s was the loudest voice rightfully reminding us to stop talking, get in line, and put on more lipstick.
I want you to know how she remembered to hide this giant Darth Vader mask they had in their basement every time I came over because it scared me to death.
I want you to know how in college she wrote monthly letters to her daughter’s six best friends keeping us up to speed on the happenings around town and at our high school. Seeing her bubbly handwriting on her seasonal stationery was like seeing a piece of home. And her love of a good holiday theme carried over to our wedding showers with her signature gift of coordinating dish towels for every season and holiday. They grace my kitchen throughout the year, and they will always remind me of her.
And I want you to know that in her passing she was surrounded by her family and the sweet laughter of her beautiful granddaughter. I can only hope that what was felt at her bedside--not fear, or despair, or striving, but absolute love—will comfort her family in the months and years to come. I hope they know that she’ll always be with them, waiting in the wings, whispering endless encouragement.
Rosemary Lemon Chicken Soup
Adapted from The Kitchn
1 lb ground chicken breast
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 c low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1/2 c orzo pasta
1/3 c Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, stirring to break it up into crumbles. Add in the lemon zest and rosemary, stirring to mix them into the chicken crumbles. Continue cooking until the chicken starts to brown and is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add the olive oil to the pot, and turn the heat down to medium. Stir in the onion, celery, garlic, and salt/pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables soften. Add in the chicken broth.
Bring the broth to a simmer, then add the pasta. Cook the pasta for 6-8 minutes, or just until the pasta is al dente. Turn off the heat, and stir in the lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Ladle into big soup bowls and top with additional Parmesan cheese as desired.