I’ve been talking a lot about cooking and baking – especially baking – on my blog recently. I’ve already said a couple times how comforting it is to be in the kitchen. This has been true for a long time, ever since I discovered that I could cook without a microwave back in college, but it has been substantially more true since Lauren died. While I always found working in the kitchen a relaxing diversion, now it’s become an essential part of my life, of my recovery from the loss of my daughter. When I blog about food, I am, in a way, blogging about my daughter. All the energy that should be going to take care of her is going into what I make in the kitchen.

I don’t know why my grief is manifesting in the form of baking. Perhaps it’s because it’s something I’ve always enjoyed, something I intended to share with Lauren. I have fond memories of baking with my mother and brother; I wanted to pass that on to my daughter. I can still do that, though not in the way I had originally intended. Into everything I bake goes the love I have for Lauren, the grief of having lost her, and the hope I have for the future. The more I bake, the closer a connection I feel to the life that I have before me. Right now, it’s what’s keeping me grounded, something substantial that I can put my hands into and make my own and share with people. I am, in a way, also sharing my daughter – what I hoped for her and the memory of her that I keep with me.

Baking is a process of creation, and perhaps that is what’s resonating with me and my grief. Losing a baby leaves you with this complete feeling of failure. My body failed me, it failed Lauren. For some reason, through no fault of anyone’s, I couldn’t keep my daughter alive. I created, but I couldn’t sustain. It’s a hard thing for a woman to face. I have to learn to trust myself and my body once again. This is my way of doing it. I have to prove to myself that I can create, that I can follow through on it, that I can bring forth something that is real and enjoyable and worth doing. I have to prove to myself that I am capable of nurturing, and baking does that twice over for me: in the actual process of creation and in the sharing of the end results.

Not everything is a success, and I don’t expect them to be. That’s the most important lesson to learn: things will not always turn out the way I want, the way I hope they will. Maybe I don’t have any influence on the outcome, but I have to accept that too. All I can do is do what I can. I know that sometimes it’s not enough. Control is not always mine, no matter how much I want it. But I can keep improving, keep learning. Just because I’m not always in control doesn’t mean I have an excuse to give up and let go. I can still do what I think is best and solve problems and make decisions when necessary. That’s the control I have, over myself. I’m not going to give that away.

This blog is about my journey through grief. Baking is a part of that journey. In the kitchen, I’m not putting away my grief; on the contrary, it’s right there with me, in every movement I make. It is in the sweep of the spoon as I mix, the dip of the scoop as I fill baking cups, in the twist of the icing bag. And mixed with that grief is love for what I am doing and who I am doing it for. And there is hope and a building of confidence. With each successful  endeavor, I show myself that I am not a failure. That I can create and nourish and perhaps even inspire. And with each failure, I know that all is not lost. That I still love what I have created, because it is a part of me. They make me stronger, as I learn what I cannot do and then set out to become better at it. Nothing is lost to me, nothing is a waste of time, a vain effort. Someday, I’ll be the creator I wish to be, the nurturer I didn’t know I could be. I know that where I failed once, I cannot give up, because there is always a chance for success.

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