The more I try to take steps towards a new normal, the more the past digs its claws in. Next month will be seven years. I’ve tried to have two relationships in the passing years since, and while they didn’t work for reasons now, but clearly not then, very obvious to me, part of me wonders if I’m broken beyond repair.
When my life is in individual compartments, I can micromanage each with the care they require. But that isn’t the way I want to live my life. I need to open the boxes, and connect the puzzle pieces to find some unity. Of course, as I write these words, I’m reminded of the 1,000 piece puzzle I finished working on a few months ago.
It was a scene of an old country kitchen, a field of wild flowers outside the window above the sink. Bounty of fruit and vegetables strewn across the farm table. Wooden planks interconnected to create the floor. Each piece had a subtle, distinct shape, all the while looking the same when laid out on the table for me to search through. I guess that’s what the facets of my life feel like now, as I take steps to blend bit by bit, a little at a time.
The last few days I’ve been carrying a lump of tears nestled in my throat, a delicate burden a soft wind could knock over into a well of tears in my eyes, resulting in salty water streaked cheeks. Grief is exhausting work. People feel the need to say it gets better ALL. THE. TIME.
You know what? It doesn’t.
It gets different, sometimes it gets easier to manage or deflect.
And sometimes, it gets harder.
Oddly enough, when I was on my own between relationships, the weight of my grief felt lighter. I still missed Michael more than you can imagine, but looking back, I realized there was something strengthening in the reality of my surviving it.
My relationship with C, and the one that came after him was so different. Almost so much so that even comparing them to what I’ve found this time around is unfair. Still, I wonder if I know too much to ever have the kind of relationship I crave. Maybe my family needs too much—too much patience, too much understanding, too much self-sacrifice. Too much love.
While reading an essay in Modern Loss, I read something I’ve been feeling a lot lately, regarding my own self confidence, and the never ending struggle to feel comfortable in my own body. On losing her husband of some 40 years, an older widow wrote about the intimacy that comes with time and raising a family together. Your bodies age together, and so many of the insecurities that might arise from physical intimacy or confidence of our appearances simply become part of your story together. I was so much better at accepting my body when Michael was alive because he knew the story of what it was when we met, and everything that literally shaped it during the 16 years we spent together.
Just one of the many thoughts on my mind, of which there are to many to dissect on these pages right now. And so, I do what I do best—retreat to the kitchen. Putting the unknown in pause to reconnect with the stable variables I can control.
We visited a few of my dearest friends in Brooklyn recently, and while I knew they would all appreciate a baked treat, there was one in particular whom I knew would especially love these Raspberry Violet Financiers. Erin almost cried when she tasted a financier at Ble Sucre when we were in Paris together six years ago. Oh, to think six years at this very moment I was in Paris for the very first time…
No need for fancy pans to make these. I used mini muffin tins. You do need violet syrup, though I suppose you can swap in another floral syrup of your liking.
A word about mixing the batter. It will look like too much butter, and very greasy when you first begin to mix it in. Don’t lose faith in me or this recipe. Once the browned butter is completely folded in, it’s a perfect batter.
Raspberry Violet Financiers
- Cooking spray
- 1 stick butter
- ¼ cup honey, preferably a creamy churned variety
- ¼ cup Violet Syrup (recipe here)
- 4 large egg whites (save yolks for a later use)
- ½ cup (470 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 1 cup (200) almond flour
- 1 cup (150 grams) Confectioner’s sugar, plus more to finish
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 24 fresh red raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Generously coat two 12-cup mini muffin tins cooking spray.
- Add butter to a small pot over medium-low heat. Cook until the butter is melted, turns a deep golden color, and little browned bits begin to appear, 7 to 8 minutes. Whisk the honey and violet syrup into the pot, and set aside to cool slightly.
- Add the egg whites to a deep bowl. Whisk until foamy, 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in the flours, sugar, thyme, salt, and zest. The batter will be quite thick.
- Fold in the butter mixture.
- Evenly spoon the batter into the prepared tins. Gently push a raspberry into the top of each cake, just enough so it stick into the batter but doesn’t get buried inside it.
- Bake until deeply golden around the edges, 11 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let sit in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer cakes from the pan to the rack, and let cool completely. Dust with Confectioner’s sugar, if desired, before packaging.