On Grief and Gratitude

Gratitude is a gift.  Thankfulness is a buoyant yellow buoy to cling to in the dark and unpredictable ocean that is grief.  Grace shifts our perspectives and offers tiny fragments of light shining through the fog.

Grief affects each individual differently.  Through my process of grief, I have experienced anger.  Far more than any other time in my life.  Anger at the Universe.  Anger at a God I have never even believed to be there.  Anger at my situation.  Anger at the world.  Anger towards and strangers and loved ones.  This anger is not rational.  It is primal and illogical and fierce.  It seldom makes sense, nor does it serve a true purpose, but it is there and I acknowledge and accept it’s presence in my mind.

I learned quickly not to fight the thoughts and emotions that come with grief.  It is a frightening and confusing process.  It shifts our presence in the world.  Transitions us into altered patterns of thought and behavior.  It changes who we are on a molecular level.

I will not fight this change.

For a woman who tragically lost her soul-mate on a family vacation, I am a pretty lucky lady.  I have parents who love and support me.  I had a home to move my children into when our life in Madison shattered to pieces.  I have strong and loving circles of friends throughout the world that have kept me afloat through food, favors, labor, money, texts, physical presence.  I have the financial security that Tim set up even without the knowledge that he would die young.  I have house plants and warm blankets and comfortable clothing and hot water and sunlight and stars.

While I cannot control the events that have lead me to this place, I can control the choices I make moving forward.

So I choose healing.

I choose progress.

I choose to continue to care for myself and my children with gentleness and warmth and compassion.

I choose to move forward with love, focus, and gratitude.

 

Get Yourself Together Maple Pumpkin Pie

So today, we are going to make some pie.

When I first moved back to the Northeast Kingdom, I met a new friend who had also experienced profound grief.  A few years prior, she had lost her son when he died just a few weeks before his due date.  She told me, “Grief is like a soup.  Some people slurp it all down quickly and some people eat it bite by bite, but you have to eat it.”

I have carried that analogy with me…but instead, I think of grief as pie.

Because: Pie > Soup.

There are layers to it.  Different colors and textures and flavors as you go.  It’s a shitty pie.  The kind you buy in a sad, semi-dilapidated grocery store with no one working at the bakery and cracks in the floors.  It tastes bad.  It’s filled with stuff that is probably not good for you.  You have to eat it.

Well, this pie is not Sorrow Pie.  This pie is Get Yourself Together pie.  This is the pie I make with my kids to feel connected and happy and industrious.  This is the kind of pie you can proudly bring to neighborhood potlucks and finally impress your father with. This is the kind of pie you can eat in one sitting and only feel a little bit bad. Stop buying pie at sad grocery stores.  You’re an adult.  You probably do your own taxes and mow your lawn and push babies out of your lady bits.  You should know how to make pie.

You can do this.  Make this pie.

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Get Yourself Together Maple Pumpkin Pie

1 Sugar/Pie Pumpkin

1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup

3 eggs

1.5 cups Whole Milk

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ginger

1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1/4 tsp Cloves

Butter Pie Crust

1.5 cups All Purpose Flour

1 tsp Salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter

3-5 Tbsp Cold Water

 

Pie Crust: In a food processor, process the flour and salt.  Cube butter and pulse into dry ingredients until it forms a cornmeal like consistency.  Add water one Tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together, soft and pliable, but not sticky.  Trust me, you can do this.  Roll it out between two pieces of plastic wrap and press into pie pan.  Trim and crimp the edges.  Yes.  You’re being an adult.

Pumpkin Custard:  Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the guts.  Deal with it.  Place, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until soft (approx 45 min).  Let cool.

Scoop pumpkin into the food processor.  Add in the syrup, spices and eggs.  Puree until smooth.  Add in milk.  Puree.  (If you are doubling this recipe, only puree the pumpkin and mix the rest of the ingredients in in a large bowl. Don’t be like me and make a soupy mess because you’re impatient.). Pour custard mixture into butter pie shell.  Don’t you DARE use a store-bought crust, I didn’t raise you like that.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until set in the middle.  Cool.  Slice and enjoy.  You’re an adult.