A dear friend of mine just baked these breads in Noah’s memory. Here is the message she sent with the pictures: “You have written of the girls weaving the past, present and future, of Noah’s love of bread, and how Noah has been weaving around you a circle of love such as you have never seen or believed possible…Thinking of these things, I wanted to bake a bread in honor of Noah and your family – I tried to bake woven circles of love. The first is six circles, woven together, one circle each for Veronique, Danielle, Michael, Sophia, Noah and Arielle. The second is a five-strand braid, fashioned as a circle of love, one strand for each grandchild.”
I love both these breads: not only are they gorgeous but they are powerful symbols for what binds a family together. I love the way the dough rose and filled out the hollow parts on the first one, blurring out the void between the circles. I also love it that on the second one, Noah is woven tightly in with his brother and sisters. Thank you so very much, my baking friend. I will respect your wishes and not reveal your name on this blog but you are truly an artist, not to mention an amazing baker, and should be admired and honored as such!
Last night at the dinner table, Sophia – who despises pickles as much as her brother loved them or, as she puts it, loves them – took a bite of a pickle and passed it around: “Everyone take a bite for Noah!” I didn’t follow the pickle trail around the table. It didn’t find its way to me (I suspect it was hijacked by another pickle aficionado.) I was busy thinking of Sophia, a girl who knows perfectly well what she likes and dislikes and is very particular about what she puts in her mouth. Pickles never made the cut. Yet here she was, initiating a pickle love-in. Losing a loved one -especially a young one for whose disappearance nothing has prepared us- seems to change everyone. It changes everything too, both in small ways and in big ones.
Newtown was given tickets to Disney on Ice last Saturday and all families were invited: we took the girls. They seemed to enjoy it, especially the replay of The Little Mermaid and Toy Story, but beyond the twirling of flashing batons and the obligatory slurping of purple ice slush in blinking plastic cups, who really knows? I thought Sophia looked exhausted, maybe by the self-imposed obligation to have a good time for the grown-ups’ sake.
I know that for us it was rough: first of all there were many more intact families than victim families and while it was wonderful to see so many kids, it was also a heartbreak not to count among them Noah nor any of the nineteen six- and seven-year olds who were taken away on December 14. Secondly there was the noise which was harsh and cacophonous at time, maybe because of the acoustics of the arena. Thirdly and worst of all (at least for me, I don’t know if others were affected the same way as I didn’t dare broach the subject afterwards), there was twice a mock battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. The forces of good lost and crumpled to the ice. It took a nanosecond before they sprang up again as good as new and went on with their lives but the harm was done: I could hardly breathe from grief.
If Disney has that effect (and there were no guns involved), I can only imagine the hundreds of movies and other forms of entertainment that have suddenly become off-limits to us. And what does it say about human nature in general and our society in particular that violence and death are routinely considered entertaining? I am not ready to try and look for answers yet but one day I know I will. Meanwhile I concentrate on the family and take it one day at a time, finding extraordinary comfort in the circles of love, big and small, that keep us going.