Grieving and Baking – How they can go hand in hand

Figurine of mother and child

For anyone who may not know, my son, Noah Jeffries, passed away on October 4th, 2017. He was 21 years old and the light of my life. He was every good part of me and my whole heart. For those who would ask, because it seems to be a popular question, yes he is my only child.  

I am a writer, a baker, a cook and a glass engraver. What I am distraught and grieving I fall to those as a means of emotional outlet. The featured photo is significant as the deserts pictured are things I made while coping through my grief. The focus is not on them, because I wasn’t really thinking about them while I made them. I was thinking about Noah. 

I was thinking about all the things we did together while he was growing up. How much he loves to cook and bake right alongside of me and how creative he was. It wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life – He wanted to be a police officer or in the Marines with Special Ops and then one day eventually a US Marshal.  Nonetheless I still loved when he cooked with me and something that very few people knew was that when he was a teenager he went to a youth culinary school. He was creative and brilliant and I never had a dish he made that wasn’t amazing.

The figurine is significant to our relationship as well as is explained below. This is a post that I left on Facebook on my personal feed on Thanksgiving Day. I thought I would share it here as I attempt to find my way back to investing time in the things that are important to me and make me who I was and will be again…

Happy Thanksgiving!

The baking is done and ready to be tabled. I’ll admit I only had one thing on my mind – Noah.

I kept thinking about him being so excited the first time I let him use an electric hand mixer to help blend the pie filling. It was in a metal mixing bowl and he was standing on his helper stool. I had shown him what to do, but neglected to tell him that he needed to hold the bowl still. He was 6 and had no concept of centrifugal force.

He started the little mixer and was doing great, I turned my back to get something out of the refrigerator and heard him yelling, ”Whoa… WHOAAAAAAA!!!” Like like he was riding a wild, powerful Mustang and quickly approaching a cliff.

As I turned back around to see what he was yelling at, pumpkin pie filling sprayed across my face. He had both hands on the mixer and the metal bowl was spinning in place out of control. Pumpkin pie filling was splattering all over the kitchen and Noah was coated in the thick, sticky orange colored goo. He looked over at me wide-eyed with his hair matted and dripping with a wet pumpkin pie filling helmet and yelled out, “Mama this machine’s gone Terminator crazy!!!”

The double-handed death grip he had on the blender was in fact because he thought he needed to keep the machine under control as it had become possessed and was attacking. It was not a large kitchen and it only took me two steps to get to him, but not before he had uprighted the blender, now flinging pie filling vertically as well.

I shut off the machine and we both just stood there, with the sound of pie filling blopping on the floor and counters. He looked up at me and said quite honestly, “I think that’s the wrong tool for the job. It’s got too much horsepower.”

I cleaned him up, we cleaned up the kitchen together, and then we made another batch. When we got ready to mix it I took out the hand whisk and gave it to him. He looked shocked and asked, “You’re still going to let me help?!”

I said, “Yes of course. You made a mistake, it’s no big deal, now it’s just funny. Besides, I’m the mommy, it was my job to tell you, you had to keep holding the bowl, and I forgot to. It was common sense to me, because I’m older, but you had no way of knowing. It’s all cool, now we have a new good memory, right?”

He smiled his huge beautiful smile, hugged me really tight and said, “Right! But from now on, let’s stick to the wire whisky thing for this stuff.” To this day I still only use a hand whisk for the pie fillings just because of the memory that makes me laugh every time.

Figurine of mother and childThe photo, I took in the kitchen after baking some things in an effort to distract myself. The little figurine that the focus is on, I purchased in a gift shop when Noah was five. It embodied everything I felt about him and being a mother.

It used to stand on my desk and one day when Noah was playing he accidentally bumped the desk causing the figurine to topple. The mother’s head broke off and Noah looked crestfallen, because he knew how much it meant to me. It was a clean break I just glued it back on, it didn’t matter to me I was going to keep it. He apologized a million times and I kept telling him it was no big deal.

Fast forward six years and Noah is 11. He took a trip to New Orleans to visit my sister-in-law Rebecca. They were having lunch at a Cracker Barrel and he saw the exact same figurine for sale in the gift store. He chose to buy it and brought it home on his return flight.

I picked him up at the airport and once retrieving his bag from the baggage claim he pulled me off to the side so he could get into the front of his suitcase. I asked, “What is in there that is so important you have to get it out now?”

He was so excited as he took the boxed item out of his bag and handed it to me. I opened it and was shocked. Noah said “I know how much that statue meant to you and I always felt badly that I broke it. I never thought I’d find another one.”

There was a man standing off to the side watching, he came over to me and said, “I sat next to your son on the flight. He talked about that statue, having broken it and how much it meant to him to be able to replace it for you. You got a good boy there. You should be proud.”

I am. I always have been. From the first day to the last that he walked with us and even still today without him.

To this day I still have both figurines. One stands in my kitchen, on a window sill since it’s where I spend most of my time and I can see it everyday. The other is in the dining room, in a china cabinet. I treasure both of them and the memories that they hold.

That’s what it’s all about. All of it – the whole journey. The memories and the love that you share with each other. It’s what I’m most thankful for today.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed day making memories together. Because of Noah’s organ donation there are four families in the state of Florida who will continue to build holiday memories with the people they love. #organdonor #NoahsArmy

We have also just launched the Noah’s Army website. 

We are establishing Noah’s Army Foundation to continue doing good and positive things in the world for others just as our son always did. I ask if you would please visit the site to learn more about it and be involved. 

I pray everyone has blessed and wonderful New Year surrounded by those you love.