It seems fitting to talk about pizza on this very last post of 2011, for it's how I started 2011 when it dawned almost a year ago. Pizza is something we take very seriously here. Years ago, I started the tradition of Pizza Fridays. It seemed we always ordered on Fridays, and as cooking from scratch became an obession, it just made sense to start making it myself too. It was never about taking a break from cooking, it was about creating more family time.
Our usual routine was to curl up on the couch, pies strewn across the coffee table as we settled in for a movie. In the last year, Mikey often came home from work as the movie was winding down, but his first bite of pizza always elicited the same reaction. He'd close his eyes, take a deep breath, then sink his teeth into the crispy crust. Next came an exhale, then he'd open his ebony eyes and say "damn, how do you do it!".
I miss him more than I can ever convey with mere words.
This past week, I've felt numb and in shock all over again. I stare at his pictures, desparately remininding myself that our life together wasn't a dream. How is it in just 144, he seems so far away. We spent more than 5,000 together, yet each one that passes since August 7th feels like someone is slowly taking an eraser to the blackboard of my life.
It's like a slow, painful shake of an etch a sketch, as I scramble, trying to cling to each moment of every memory, knowing they have to last a lifetime.
In my most desparate moments I retreat to the kitchen. It is the only place I feel normal and in control of my life.
On Christmas morning, I set my mind to making Mikey a cake. A glorious coffeecake flecked with bits of pear and adorned with an allspice pecan crumb topping.
This morning, I had a challenging day ahead of me, so I set out to make a breakfast Virginia and often enjoyed. Nothing fancy, just poached eggs, toast and apple slices. Okay, maybe the fresh squeezed blood orange juice upped the fancy ante, but anyone can make orange juice. The point is, this simple homemade breakfast nourished more than just my belly.
When Mikey was alive, he used to walk Isabella to school while Virginia and I got a slow start to our morning. We'd watch The Cat in the Hat while poking at the yolks on our poached eggs. She remembers those mornings vividly, and recalled them today as we sat at our new table and dipped toast into the pools of yolk.
Mikey is not here in the physical sense anymore, but we can continue to live many parts of our lives as we did before. The challenge is not to focus on the gaping hole in every memory.
I thought I had that under control until Hanukkah and Christmas came along. I know I will get back on the saddle come January, but right now I just want to stomp my feet like a toddler. I don't want to turn the page come 12:01 on January 1st.
I don't want to face a year in which he will have never lived.
Never held me.
Never kissed me.
And yet I have to, so I move forward with a line from my favorite Christmas movie in my head:
"I believe, I believe, it's silly but I believe."
I made a commitment to dream big, so I'll float into 2012 with an open mind and hope my heart follows.