Baking Blueberry Pie For Grief

When I began sharing our story of child loss, I had a dream. A vision that one day I would help other grieving parents share their stories. That I would help provide a platform, and this blog would become more than just my voice.

Please help me welcome Amy from Aloe & Moss.

Blueberries. Half wild for my adventurous and daring daughter, and the life she should have had. Half regular for me, for what was comfortable, for what I should have had.

Rinse them in warm water. I feel the cold flow away from the berries. I Feel the berries warm, let the new warmth wash over my hands.

Rinse them in cold water once for my love and once for my grief. Cold water brings an anxious mind to the present.

Put half the berries in a bowl that is big enough to hold everything I thought I would have. The other half of the berries go on the stove with lemon juice. Acid. Acid stings like her death. Acid hurts an open wound. I’m told the acid makes the blueberries brighter. For now, the acid makes me acutely aware of my circumstances.

Gently cook the berries until they reduce by half. Like my children. Reduced by half.

Gently mash the berries being cooked in acid. Break open the cooked berries to release the pectin. It helps to set what is left. It forms the gel that will keep the pie together. It holds whatever life I have together. The pectin is key to pie, and easily forgotten. If you forget to include what holds life together, the result is soupy; messy. She was my pectin. She delicately holds my future together.

Mix the cooked berries into the large bowl with the uncooked berries. Mix together what I thought I would have with what I actually have. Mix them to balance her lost future and my new life. I’m told if I mix them properly, I won’t taste the acid. I’m told the sweet will eventually overcome the sting in the acid.

I look to the proper mix to give me the balance I crave. Add dry lemon pudding mix and sugar and a grated apple. More acid. More sweet. More pectin. I must be resolute in my trust of the sweet to overtake the acid. I trust in those that have done this before and tell me what to expect.

I mix gently into my soul. Love into the turn. Watch life turn. Watch the child slip away. Mix her spirit and her sweet and her shine into the berries. Mix for love. Mix for loss. Mix for the grief and what life happens next.

Pour more dry lemon pudding mix into the bottom of the crusted pie plate. More acid. I am told it makes the berries brighter. I have to trust it makes the berries brighter.

Everything goes into the plate and the plate goes into the very hot oven. It’s seems too hot. The temperature is much hotter than other recipes and cooking techniques. This will burn. Her loss will burn. It seems too much. When I open the oven to put the pie in, it heats my necklace. The memorial charm collects the rush of the heat and burns my throat.

Watch through the glass of the oven door. Watch the pie change in the heat. Watch life boil with the weight of the pectin that is supposed to keep it together.

Half way through, turn down the heat and rotate the pie. Release the scent into the house. The change is tangible. It’s in the air. It lingers. I can’t put it back. I can’t grab it or keep it. I can only idle in what I have at that moment. The memory of the sweet air will stay, but I can’t live the moment again.  It’s so sweet, the air, I can almost taste it. It’s so close I feel like I can touch it. It’s so close. So close. But it’s not there.  The sweet air is memory.

When the pie has bubbled with all its might – what’s left is not what I had. I can’t have that back. I have something different. The chemistry of the pie is result of a physical change.

The solemnity of the occasion allows my mind to wander and be focused at the same time. The production of the cooking and the bake yields a result I can’t find in my daily routine. In the fruit I find some escape. In the bake I find center and calm. I don’t find relief, but I do find a slowness I need to give my otherwise racing mind.

Amy is a Michigan based blogger who works in corporate purchasing by day. At night, she bakes pie. She currently lives with her partner Jayson and her daughter Alex, 19. Her blog, Aloe & Moss, is a project of love and loss. Amy lost her husband to cancer in 2010. Her 18-year old daughter passed away in 2017 on her late husband’s birthday.

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