Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Back home

A week after Noah died, my baker friend Sam Fromartz baked this beautiful crown to honor his life and memory. Here is what he wrote: "When I made it, I was thinking about the Buddhist concept of Mandala, the circle of life, as all life begins and ends, but ultimately is connected. I also thought about the Mandala when I made the grigne, like a series of never-ending waves. The way the flour unexpectedly dusted one half the loaf but not the other also symbolized lightness and dark. For all these reasons I think this loaf works and hope it is worthy of a Crown for Noah."
I was deeply touched. I know Noah would have loved the crown (he had a passion for crusty artisan bread). I also know the first thing he would have done is stick his arm through the hole in the middle and parade around the room wearing it like a gigantic bracelet and his sisters would have run after him: "My turn! My turn!" and the grown-ups would have been trying to retrieve the loaf ("Kids! We don't play with food!") and there would have been a lot of giggling and bustling about. The scene is so vivid that it is almost a memory... Thank you, Sam!
I told Sam that, with his permission, I would post the picture of the crown and his comments when I was back home and on the verge of resuming baking: today seems as good a day as any as we are indeed back home near Seattle and there is no more palpable reality in our day-to-day existence than the spinning of the circle of life and the play of light and darkness.
Going home was weird. First of all, those among you who believe in signs will probably love it that the first three letters of my confirmation number for the flight were NOA... Seriously, what are the odds? I know the code is computer-generated and meaningless but still it felt like a butterfly kiss before the trip back and it brought me joy.
Then our home was a time warp: I had forgotten that we had been in the process of decorating it for Christmas when we left precipitously on December 14th. There were boxes of ornaments left and right. The stepladder was still up. A red and white bead garland hung loose from one side of the doorframe. The tree stood unlit and petrified in a corner of the living area, like a stalagmite from the plant world incongruously decorated for the saddest of holidays. The star was pinned on the 13th on the naïve advent calendar I made for my kids out of a pillowcase back in 1974, a calendar their own kids love to see come out every year.
I  turned on my computer only to find the browser stuck on the post I wrote before leaving. After seven weeks, it was like being rocketed back to a time before time we could barely recollect. So much had happened since.
We took the calendar down, untrimmed the tree, collected the window candles (we have little star ones from Ikea which need to be turned on manually, one-by-one, a task our grandkids love to take on) and removed their batteries, unhook the hanging garland and started packing Christmas away. Truth be told, I don't know at this point that I'll ever feel like getting the house ready for the holidays again. But then "ever" is a very short word for a very long time and things may change. Also there are the grandkids to think of...
Friends from the baking community came by over the weekend: one walked in carrying two containers of levain (wheat and rye) (For those of you who are not bakers, levain is the French word for sourdough starter). I hugged her on the spot: inexplicably both my levains had died while we were gone. Feeding the new starters felt good.  Although I am not quite up to baking yet (still too distracted), it was a first step, a promise to myself.
She also brought gorgeous breads, crackers and cookies, including a marvelously potent beer bread we had with turkey chili on SuperBowl Sunday (not that we watched the game this year but still...). Others brought a sumptuous chocolate cake (we had a milestone birthday to celebrate) and a lovely Pithiviers. We sat around the kitchen table in the kids' house. We chatted, caught up on everyone's story. Life, interrupted, seeping back. Circles of love, still woven tight...


  1. Love the confirmation number story! truly a sign from Noah :) He was giving his blessing for a safe return home.

  2. I honestly don't know what to say. My heart still breaks for you and your family. Keep writing even if you don't post it. Make your memories fresh words on paper; you write so well that when Noah's siblings get older, they will get to experience memories they may not recall until the moment they read your vivid words and their rambunctious, blue-eyed whirlwind that came and went too soon comes to life in their minds again through your words and stories. I will check back here often as I always do, but whether you post or not, your and your family will remain in my prayers and Noah will remain as a reminder to cherish every moment with my 2 little ones as well as try to be sure they cherish their time together too.

    1. This is great, Sherri. My thoughts exactly.
      Pleasanton, CA

  3. Thank you for writing MC.The confirmation number was really a sign from Noah. He was wishing you a safe journey home and letting you know that he is watching over you and never far from all of you'll - his family. My prayers are that you are always surrounded with love and your family and friends and little Noah. Take care and please keep writing - it will surely help you and people around you too.

  4. Thank you for writing MC. I was happy to read about the confirmation number as that is really a sign from little Noah saying he is watching over you always and never far from you'll - his family. He was wishing you a safe journey home.
    Your posts help a lot of people who are still grieving. Take care of yourself and keep writing please. I have a folder opened named Farine and file all your posts.
    My prayers are you are always surrounded with love from your family, friends but most of all Little Noah.

  5. MC, Your words,so beautifully written for such an utterly tragic and horrendous heart stills aches for you all. I wish I could take it away...just know we are praying for you, Noah, Veronique and your family, daily, I do not know what else to do and I am so sorry.

    "may you find the light somewhere on this journey of life"-Unknown author from Noah's online memorial.

  6. MC,

    I always feel inadequate when writting a comment to your blog. I wish I could write something that will make you feel better, but I don't think there are any words in our language that will do that. So, thank you for sharing your journey back home. I think of you and your family daily, you are in my heart and will remain there.

    Lori Kessler

    1. I will have to humbly echo Lori's words...

  7. MC I'm glad u made it back home safely. Noah is with u always, he's letting u know he is always present not just in your heart but ever present in your life.

  8. I am one who absolutely believes our loved ones become guardian angels (I have an awesome one) and that Noah is now watching over you. The flight letters NOA were just to let you know he's still there. It's wonderful to see a new post and because of your blog, and to honor Noah, I'm going to try my hand at bread baking (I'm relatively competent with the simple breads, like wheat and French, but I've never done one of the more complicated ones.)

    You and your family will always be in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing all of this.

    Many hugs,


  9. Welcome back, MC; I, too feel inadequate when writing to you, as though anything I write will really make a difference. Please know that you and your family are in my prayers, as is Noah, and I check the facebook memorial pages for stories and photos of him. There were several published that were really very touching and fun, on a pony, at the park his sisters and building a snowman. In each photo, that dazzling smile.



    1. Eileen,
      Would you please share the FB link of the pics you mentioned?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Still thinking of you, your family, and especially Noah<3

  11. MC,
    What a wonderful gift from Noah! He is with you, his mom and sisters always. I feel that he will be so excited and proud when you bake that first loaf.

    It must have been so hard to go home and even more difficult to see all the reminders of that horrible day. Bittersweet memories of a more innocent time.

    Your depiction of Noah running around with the crown on his arm warmed my heart as I am quite convinced that is exactly what would have happened! You write with
    such descriptiveness and love- I think we all feel we know sweet Noah.
    And I agree that his sisters will gain much strength and
    knowledge about their brother from your posts. They will provide them comfort and the gift of memories.

    Thank you for sharing your stories. This horrible tragedy has changed me as a mom. I have a 6 year old boy (also like Noah a late year birthday boy) and a 3 year old girl. Your posts, although sometimes read through
    tears, have lifted me up and made me a calmer, more appreciative and thankful mom.

    Thank you Noah. Thank you proud Grandma.

  12. MC, it felt good to hear from you. I am glad you made it home safe. When I read the part of your confirmation number for your flight, it gave me goosebumps, in a good way. That just shows he is still with you. Please keep writing, if you feel you can. There are a lot of us that are grieving with you. Many blessings to you and your beautiful family. We'll be with you all the way.

  13. Fedra Tucci (Italia)February 7, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    Signora, quando leggo i suoi post su Noah, la percezione della immane tragedia di Sandy Hook cambia. ..infatti Lei mi riporta ad una dimensione diversa... quella del dolore intimo, privato, familiare (che io conosco per aver perso una figlio anch'io)e che, sebbene sia più doloroso per chi segue i Suoi post, è una cosa che Le fa onore. Intanto, non è facile parlare come parla Lei e scrivere come Lei fa, ed è proprio vero che fa più male, tanto male!!! ... Ritengo comunque che sia giusto così, che si dica la verità delle cose.... Anche Sua figlia è ammirevole in questo modo di raccontare la sua tragedia personale, senza sconti. Il modo in cui sono morti questi bambini e tutto il dolore più intimo ... è questa la verità delle cose che trovo giusta da parte di voi familiari rappresentare per come è DAVVERO stato!!! Chi ha il coraggio di leggervi, perchè ci vuole coraggio ad entrare nel vosto intimo dolore,( è molto più facile non farlo perchè meno doloroso), lo fa perchè non si accontenta, perchè pensa che non ha senso stare sulla soglia se vuole davvero "condividere" e "con - patire" con voi. E' questo, secondo me, il modo più giusto per starvi accanto, così, in silenzio "aiutandovi a portare la croce" per usare un'immagine del Cireneo nella religione cattolica che aiuta Gesù a portare la Croce sul Golgota... Con questo non voglio negare l'immenso valore di chi non si ferma sulla soglia di un sepolcro e guarda oltre, perchè sono anche convinta che dalle pietre nascano i fiori, che da questo assurdo evento possa succcedere qualcosa di buono. Penso alla giusta battaglia contro le armi, per la sicurezza nelle scuole o per le soluzioni della politica sulle malattie mentali nel vostro paese che famiglie come i Wheeler, i Barden, i Kowalski, i Marque'z-Greene,i Hockley , che Sua figliae Lei stessa e in prima persona, stanno combattendo!!!Ma ci sono anche momenti come questi cui si impone il raccoglimento e il rispettoso silenzio davanti a questi vostri racconti di dolore che a me rendono davvero cari e preziosi sia Noah, sia tutta la sua famiglia ... è davvero così e non mi era mai successo. Ecco perchè, anche se tanto lontana, scrivo a Lei e a Sua figlia Veronique così spesso e in tutti i modi. è come se vi conoscessi di persona... per questo legame ideale (per ora.... mi piacerebbe un giorno, se fosse possibile, ospitarvi in Italia con i bambini d'estate), mi sono davvero legata a Lei e alla Sua famiglia, a Noah soprattutto a cui penso sempre a cui mi rivolgo anche con un sorriso pensando alla sua energia di bambino simpatico e gioioso. ricordetò lui,credo, anche in futuro.
    Volevo che Lei sapesse tutte queste cose.. Le mando un abbraccio .... Mi scusi Signora, non so scrivere in inglese e non so se riuscirà a capire ... spero di sì <3

  14. Dear MC, I am so happy to find out something new on your blog...
    I mised yor stories.. I missed you. Every day in my prayers I am with you asking God to take special care of his best friend Noah :) you & your familly as well.
    My son is 7 yo today. I will tell him a stroy of a bread crown made for Noah and Noah's parade with it on his hand. He would do the same, I am fully convinced. They play many tricks with his older sister.
    We will make a special candle for Noah today, so he can join us.
    Regards from Poland,
    Always yours Alex

  15. MC, I thought I'd left a comment but a glitch in my computer I think? Anyway..I missed your posts, the ones of Noah were so hard to read, and with the barrage of news and the idiots in Congress..all I could do was bake and think when you will make some bread or share happy stories again...


  16. MC, alot of the things I want to say to you have already been said in a few of the post above. I will always love Noah and will never forget what happened. I promise to do all that I can for change, as I am a mother of three young boys myself. The big thing that I would like to say to you today is that I think you are a fantastic mother. The strength and support that you have shown is just simply amazing. I hope that if ever faced with adversity that I am equipped with the ability to stand with great strength and grace, as you have. You have become a role model for me.

    On a lighter note, I know that you have Sophia and Arielle, I am not sure if any of your other grandchildren are girls. If you are into fun silly cute clothes for them check out the Lolly Wolly Doodle website. If I had a little girl I think that I would probably buy all of their clothes from them. Just simply fun.

    I hope God lays his hands on you and your family and comforts you for the rest of your lives. All my love.

  17. Jennifer B. - Greenville, SCFebruary 7, 2013 at 6:01 AM

    Not only do I read your posts through never-ending tears, but everyone else's comments as well. Just beautiful... the outpouring of love I'm seeing and feeling. I also can relate to the feeling of inadequacy when writing anything... there just doesn't seem to be anything I can say that will be special or awe-inspiring. But I do know these posts are written with such inspiration... I feel like I'm living all these things too. Thank you for letting us in on your journey. I know my life itself has dramatically changed since Dec. 14th. I feel like we're all in this together. With love always... Jennifer

  18. Dear MC,
    Thanks again for your lovely words of hope. May you start baking really soon.The road to healing is a long one and I am sure you all will travel it at your own pace. It will be 2 months since the kids were stolen fron this world. Even today I get teary thinking about the angels. I talked to my kids and they did draw hearts for the hearts project for Sandy Hook Kids. Being only 5 and 6, they don't understand the concept of death and loss. But they did touch my heart when they said "hopefully the angels will smile looking at our happy hearts". Know that the fallen have not only touched adults but also little kids as well. Again thanks for your words of wisdom. And the signs that you are seeing are real. Noah is there with you all in spirit and once day your family will be together again. But til then keeping weaving the cirlcle of love.

  19. Hi MC,
    I'm glad you made it home safely. I do believe in signs, and am glad that Noah was looking out for you. I came upon this blog because of Noah and I once mentioned that I was not a good bread baker, but had wanted to try again to make this wonderful Finnish coffee bread that my former mother-in-law would make. My 17 yr old daughter and I have made a few attempts and I have to say we seem to have finally had success. So now Karina and I are determined to branch out and try some other simple bread recipes. This has been wonderful as I am learning how to make bread, but also my daughter and I get to learn together. I thank you and Noah for that. I think of Noah every day, and wish you and your family much love and peace. Liz

  20. Dear MC,
    Your loving friends are so glad to have you home and I was happy to read about their visits with the starters and other things. NOA - little Noah making himself known to you. His energy is his way of coming close to you and I am sure he would have been snuggling up to you in his way.
    It must have been so hard walking in to your semi decorated home, I feel for you.
    Thinking of you and Noah and all his family.
    The light and dark loaf is a wonderful symbol and I can see Noah in my mind's eye too, spinning and spinning it on his arm. Smiling.

  21. Dear MC,
    welcome home. Whatever it takes to ease you and your family back into some sort of normality—love, support, signs, nature—may you find it. take care.

  22. I would just bet that Noah would have absolutely loved the snow that is coming.
    We love you all, MC. Hope that Veronique and the kids stay warm and experience no loss of power.
    You all are a constant on my heart.

  23. Alan W. Dresher, PAFebruary 8, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    The Jewish period of mourning, shiva, has a series of important milestones which help to reintroduce the survivors back into the other world. There is the funeral and burial, the shiva--7 days in which you receive visitors and a houseful, the shloshim--the 30 days in which you mourn but not so heavily, not receiving people, going back to work, etc. Then there is the yahrzeit--the yearly commemoration of the people who have passed.

    I gather Noah was being raised Jewish and that he had a Jewish funeral and shiva, and I'm sure you experienced that. I think by going back to your Seattle home, you are going along that natural progression of slowly reimmersing yourself and I wish you peace with that.

    I am no theologian nor a particularly religious person, but I think there is a humanity to the Jewish mourning in which you can remember those who passed but still continue to live (which is also a commandment so to speak). Your sharing is part of the process, to which we are all grateful and hope that you feel our extended embrace at least in the virtual world. I do believe that your baking will also help you to reimmerse yourself in the living world, and the other kids and grandkids will do that too.

    I wish you nothing but peace in your journey forward and hope that you continue to bravely post. You will never forget the loss of Noah, but I am hopeful that you can find happiness and love with those around you near and far.

  24. Thank you for posting beautifully again. Carry Noah's lightness and energy with you - and cherish those scenes that seem like memories - it probably did happen that way at one time. I think it was him sending you some lightness.

    Hugs from CO.

  25. Noah vous à donné un signe évident de sa présence à vos côtés et vous en aurez encore tellement d'autres pour vous soutenir dans votre peine...amicalement

  26. Good Morning MC. I hope the sun is shining on you today. Also thinking of Veronique and the children in all of that snow.
    I hope all îs well with them. Love, prayers and best wishes always.

  27. Thinking of you all today as always :) Noah is in my heart forever

  28. Dear MC,

    As always, thank you for sharing Noah and yourself with us. Noah's gift to you is unconditional and eternal love, as is yours to him and to the rest of your family... the circle of love and life as you so beautifully describe. During this journey, I am certain your baking will help you along, as creativity can help to lighten our mood. I pray you are able to fill your life moments with what you like most and to remember to enjoy life. Like so many others, I will always be here for you, and hope this love and support may be a ray of sunshine for what I pray will be light all around you.

    Many hugs,
    Erin Gill

  29. What a difficult time that must have been, coming home to all the signs of a life interrupted, and clearing it all away, knowing that Christmas will never be exactly the same.
    The bread crown is a wonderful symbol of life and renewal, and I hope you will eventually find consolation in creating and shaping your beautiful breads again.

  30. Dear MC,

    Im glad to see that you made it home safely. I definetely believe in sings and I know Noah will continue to give you more signs-Love for and your family from Orlando FL-God bless

  31. MC,

    I still think, pray, and cry about Noah and your family every day.

    God Bless You.

    Peace and Love,

    Burke VA

  32. Dear Sweet Noah is now in heaven where nothing bad can touch him. As I write this, I have goosebumps all over. Not a day goes by without me thinking of him. He has a big spot in my heart. Keep watching for signs from Noah.

  33. MC,
    The Crown your friend has baked for Noah is so meaningful, and very beautiful.
    Your friend is a wonderful baker; he has shown such thoughtfulness in making this bread.
    I hope the love of your family and friends made returning home easier. I’m keeping you and your family in my heart, and thoughts.
    - breadsong



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