Tuesday, July 25, 2017

One Year

Today it has been one year. 

One year since I flew home in a panic, fighting back the tears but not the nerves, ripping at my cuticles and picking off my nail polish. A year since I stood at my mother's windows seeing and yet not seeing the beautiful sun set over my home town.

Beautiful summer sunset in the Boston suburbs | www.BakingInATornado.com

It's been a year since we said "love you" as she began to get sleepy. Since we memorized her assigned number, 763, a number I will never forget. Since we sat in that waiting room staring endlessly at the board. Watched the words by 763 go from "in pre-op" to "surgery started" to "surgery ended" and finally to "in recovery" and knew we could almost breathe again. Almost.

Hospital update board | www.BakingInATornadolcom

It's been a year since we waited to be allowed into the recovery room, then were caught sneaking in, then waited some more and tried to sneak in yet again. Since the nurse had pity on us and allowed us to just see her for a second, then told us emphatically to go get something to eat, we could meet her in her room in an hour.

Since the cocktails that followed. 

Cocktails in Kenmore Square | www.BakingInATornado.com

It's been a year since we looked on in shock as she got out of the transport bed and walked to her hospital bed. Walked. And no, it wasn't those cocktails. Since we sat with her and witnessed her complete comeback from the drowsiness of the anesthesia. Since we asked the doctor and the nurse endless questions, and since at the end of visiting hours we turned her TV on and asked if she needed anything.

"How am I supposed to know what's on? I need a TV guide." 

Quickly exiting her room then, we looked at each other, not a word was said, we were both thinking the same thing: "she's baaaaack."

On our way out, without pausing or missing a step, my sister threw the ball into the nurse's court "she needs a TV guide." And with that we pushed our way through the double doors and giggled.

Yes, it's even been one year since that first post-surgical laugh.

It's been a year since we brought her home. Since my heart broke as I endlessly emptied the drain and changed bandages and heard over and over "it's so ugly, how can you stand to look at it?" Since I answered that all I saw was strength.

It's been a year since I fielded phone calls, went to follow up appointments, critiqued endless clothing options, served meals and afternoon tea to more friends and family than I can count.

A year has also passed since that bittersweet day came when she declared herself self-sufficient, even made me her famous lobster salad, and sent me back home.

A year since I cried on those flights, knowing that the next assault would be chemo. That she was not allowing me to come back for it.

I have never lost a body part. Still have my tonsils and appendix even. But I watched it happen, a year ago, so I know that celebrating that loss, even knowing it meant life, would feel just so . . . insensitive. 

So as there tends to be with most anniversaries there will be no balloons, no gifts, no "surprise" yelled into a room full of friends and family. 

And yet, that horrible wonderful day was about early detection. It was about health and about hope. It was about strength and determination and the will to overcome. It does need to be marked, acknowledged in some way. 

I'll spend the day today more relieved. Way way more relieved than the way I spent this day in 2016. I'll have a quiet dinner with my family. And after much thought I've decided that there will be cake.

Berry Blue Angel Poke Cake, an angel food loaf infused with blueberries and raspberry liqueur then frosted with flavored whipped cream. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert #cake #blueberries
Berry Blue Angel Poke Cake
Berry Blue Angel Poke Cake, an angel food loaf infused with blueberries and raspberry liqueur then frosted with flavored whipped cream. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert #cake #blueberries

Because there is, in fact, something that I am celebrating.

One year.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Berry Blue Angel Poke Cake         

1 box (3 oz) Berry Blue jello
OPT: 1/4 cup raspberry liqueur
1 10 oz (8 X 4) Angel Food Loaf, cooled
1/3 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 cup whipping cream

OPT: additional blueberries for garnish

*Dissolve the jello granules completely in 1 cup boiling water. Mix in 1/4 cup cold water and 1/4 cup raspberry liqueur (or you can use cold water if desired). Place half of the liquid jello in the fridge while preparing the rest of the cake.
*Cut the Angel Food loaf in half lengthwise about halfway up from the bottom. Place the bottom half onto a serving plate. With a chopstick, dot this cake loaf half with holes. Do not go  through the bottom of the cake. 
*Gently press half of the blueberries into the holes. Carefully pour 1/2 of jello not refrigerated over the cake. 
*Dot the second half of the cake loaf and insert the remaining blueberries. Place onto the bottom half on the serving plate and pour the remaining unrefrigerated jello over the top.
*Carefully, using a paper towel, remove the excess jello from the plate around the cake. Refrigerate.
*After about 1/2 hour (you want the jello in the fridge to just start to thicken but not completely gel), beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks hold. Remove the jello from the fridge and beat into the whipped cream. NOTE: if the jello has thickened too much, whisk in a little hot water. 
*Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Carefully remove the top layer and spread a very small amount of frosting onto the bottom layer. Replace the top and frost the entire cake with whipped cream. Decorate with additional blueberries. Place unused whipped cream into a sealed bag in the refrigerator to dollop onto slices when serving.
*Store cake in refrigerator.


  1. Something definitely worth celebrating, Karen!
    I'm so happy for that first post-surgical laugh. I felt the same when my 16-year-old daughter came out of surgery and they moved the blankets off her feet and told her to move her toes for her mom. All the fears I didn't even know I was holding in just came out in a gush of tears.
    So grateful for successful surgeries that give us back the people we love.
    Thank you for sharing this. I'm sharing my happy tears with you!

  2. Wow, it's been a year already, I remember your flying there. So glad you get to celebrate this day not with your Mom but for your Mom! That cake looks both pretty and delicious!

    1. Thank you, Tamara. Sometimes time flying is a good thing.

  3. Worth remembering and yes, worth celebrating.

  4. It's always a tough thing to see our loved ones go through surgery. Glad it went well. That cake looks wonderful!

    1. Yes, always good to have it over with and have a good outcome.
      I know the cake isn't on your diet, guess I'll just have to have a piece for you.

  5. Karen, I had no idea. So glad you and she get to acknowledge this one year date. Send her my best.

    1. Thank you, Reisa, I will. Our thoughts are with you now too.

  6. Happy anniversary, and what a happy anniversary this is. Yes, let's have some cake. I love Angel Food cake with strawberries (low cal version of strawberry shortcake) so why not blueberries? Personally, I wouldn't use the jello but that's a matter of taste. Again, happy for you! Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. Yes, I love an angel food cake with pretty much any fruit in the summer, it's a light refreshing dessert.

  7. A year already bet that year when by in a flash

    1. It did, feels like yesterday I was back home. Now here I am and it's been a whole year.

  8. So much to celebrate! Glad you are acknowledging a hard, yet victorious season. And what a yummy cake!

  9. A cancerversary is always an occasion for cake!

  10. I love the outside border made out of those sugar wafer sticks. I try to pick up those at Aldi's once in a while, now I will have another purpose to pick them up thanks to your recipe.

    1. Me too. I rarely see the different colored ones in stores but when I see them I grab them.


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