I am so glad 2013 is over. For the past two days I’ve been getting rid of a lot of stuff to start the new year off free and clear.
I have a ton of cookbooks and food magazines that I’m not going to read that have to go. I came across a folder filled with recipes that I’d clipped over the years and swore I’d make and never did. I closed my eyes and picked out one recipe before, tossing the folder in the recycling bin. Grape and Rosemary Focaccia, a recipe from an old Better Homes and Garden issue, was the lucky winner.
2013 was a rough year for me, and I’m so glad it’s over. Believe it or not, I’m a very private person and I rarely share with the world significant events in my life. Sure, I’ll tell funny stories and talk about my obsession with Gerard Butler, but to go deep and reveal intimate details is difficult for me.
2013 altered how I approach the world.
Two major events occured that overwhelmed my life. I became an aunt grandmother and the greatest friend I ever had died. I experienced great joy and absolute sorrow at the same time.
June 23 my neice was born and my best friend was rushed to the hospital for complications associated with the lung cancer she’d been battling for about six years. I trekked between labor and delivery and the emergency department all day, and of course these units were on opposite side of a massive hospital. By the time the baby was born and my friend was released at midnight I felt like Daffy Duck bouncing around with that crazy woohoo laugh. That moment in time I was the only person in Charlotte that could tend to both women.
But God never gives you more than you can handle–right?
My dad died six weeks after my sister was born. I was thirteen and charged with helping my mom raise her. We had a sister-mother relationship for most of her life that transitioned when she was about twenty-five. My job was done and we could finally be just sisters.
Fast forward five years.
Now I’m helping my sister raise her daughter. I take care of her while my sister is at work. I have the best of both worlds–I finally have a baby girl to play with, and when we lose that loving feeling for each other I can send her little butt home.
Having my neice around during the day has made it a little easier to deal with the loss of my best friend, the only person–other than my husband–who really knew me.
We met in graduate school and had been friends ever since. We talked almost everyday for fifteen years. She’d even call me during her chemo treatments so I could make her laugh. That was my job– to make her laugh. Since I’m a clown that was easy enough, although some days were harder than others and I just wanted to cry. But I didn’t.
I put on my funny pants, and we laughed, talked politics, prayed and gushed over Gerard Butler. She seemed to be doing better until June, then it all went to hell from there. By October, she was in hospice and the reality that we would never take that trip to Italy for our forty-fifth birthday began to sink in. But I managed to make her laugh until the end.
We spent her last weekend together. It was a blessing that I got the opportunity to be there for her and her family as she transitioned. I gave her mother the break she needed to take a nap, to tend to her granddaughter and to be alone to cry in private. I cooked for my friend and bathed her. And when she felt embarrassed and exposed, I flashed her and her mom my boobs which made everyone laugh during a very painful time. And then I apologized for making one of her last memories be of my boobs–which had seen better days before childbirth and the cruelty of gravity.
I was there for her last good day and she knew that I loved her dearly when she passed away.
The past couple of months have been hard because my phone doesn’t ring as much as it used to. And whenever something happends in my life the first thing I want to do is call her, but I can’t.
God never gives us more than we can handle, and that’s why He’s blessed my life with the perfect companion–a baby girl who thinks I’m the funnest person she knows, and who occupies my day so I’m not so sad.
I look forward to 2014 and I pray that it brings you all as much joy and excitement that I feel it’s going to bring me.
Grape and Rosemary Focaccia, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
1 pound pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Let pizza dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Roll the dough to a 12×18 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Press the dough to fit, ten prick it with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Brush the doug with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and basil. Arrange the grapes on the dough, cut side down. Sprinkle on the rosemary and Parmesan.
Bake until puff and lightly browned, 20 to 22 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Cut the focaccia into strips with a large knife or pizza cutter.