Lifecycle / Death And Mourning / Unveiling Readings / Cold Solace

Cold Solace

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When my mother died, one of her honey cakes remained in the freezer.
I couldn’t bear to see it vanish, so it waited, pardoned, in its ice cave behind the metal trays for two more years.

On my forty-first birthday I chipped it out, a rectangular resurrection, hefted the dead weight in my palm. Before it thawed, I sawed, with serrated knife, the thinnest of slices – Jewish Eucharist. The amber squares with their translucent panes of walnuts tasted – even after I toasted them – of freezer, or frost, a raisined delicacy delivered up from a deli in the underworld.

I yearned to recall life, not death – the still body in her pink nightgown on the bed, how I lay in the shallow cradle of the scattered sheets after they took it away, inhaling her scent one last time.

I close my eyes, savor a wafer of sacred cake on my tongue and try to taste my mother, to discern the message she baked in these loaves when she was too ill to eat them:

I love you. It will end. Leave something of sweetness and substance in the mouth of the world.
-Anna Belle Kaufman

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