I stood upstairs at the wedding hall in my private room. I had found out I was pregnant just 10 days before. My dress had been fitted a week ago, but since then the pregnancy hormones had caused my boobs to grow 2 sizes and they popped up almost up to my chin. John and I had shared the wedding planning responsibilities 50/50, down to the little boxes of truffles that were favors for the guests. Each box held 2 pieces of perfection – one white, one dark. The white chocolates were filled with a lemon, lime, and orange zest infused ganache. The dark chocolates were filled with raspberry ganache, made by cooking down whole raspberries and integrating the sauce with dark chocolate. The chocolatieering had been a welcome distraction from less fun parts of the wedding planning. John and I would put on music – Pearl Jam when it was his turn to choose, electronica when it was mine. We would dance around, sleeves rolled up, wearing dirty aprons, and we would make chocolates. Molded chocolates were so much work, but oh – the glory. A properly made molded chocolate will snap when you bit into it and then ooze soft ganache. Crunchy, gooey, chocolatey, citrusy – all of the things at once, just like John and me.
It was Thursday, a couple of weeks ago – 11.5 years after our wedding. John had been dead for over a year and it was past time to clean out his cedar lined nightstand. The bottom drawer contained his prom photos. He was skinny with a big shuck of auburn hair and a goofy buck toothed smile. Under the photos was a tiny white box containing our wedding truffles. Cedar is supposed to repel moths, is that right? Not in this case. The chocolates were half chewed and covered in the remnants of the long gone pests. What would the chocolate taste like after sitting in that drawer for 11 years? Dry and crumbly? Would it taste more like cedar, or more like the long departed moths? Then, I was hit with the nausea that has become so common since the avalanche took him. My stomach clenched and became a dark pool of maggot filled tar. I contemplated eating the chocolates, guessing that they couldn’t make me feel any sicker. I fell into the walnut brown leather reading chair at the end of the bed and put on my “sad songs” play list – “I’ll follow you into the dark” by Death Cab For Cutie, “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam, and more. The music opened up in front of me and became a never-ending landing strip for my tears. That day the tears were hot, wet, and full of a silent horror. Hysterical tears are the tears of “this can’t be true”, but that day the tears slid down my face with full, quiet awareness of the fact that – this IS true. He is dead, he will always be dead, and my children will never have a father. Music, tears, horror, cedar, prom, moths, chocolate, nausea. All of the things.
Still, I eat chocolate. Recently my 10 year old, Isabella, was crying for her dead father. I tried to console her, but how could I fix the fact that she has lost everything? So I brought her some of my precious hand dipped salted caramels. She was surprised when I brought her the chocolates, because everyone knows the special caramels are off limits. I said to her “Sometimes I miss your father so much I feel like I’m going to drown in a pool of the blood that flows out of my broken heart. I can’t fix this. Nothing can bring him back. Sometimes all you can do is soothe yourself in little ways while floating on the ocean of grief. Sometimes all you can do is eat chocolate.”
So we ate chocolate. For a brief moment we weren’t mother and child, but rather 2 people whose hearts were broken, 2 people who needed chocolate.