Metaphor of the Cake
March 17, 2014
“Help! I don’t know what to do!” the urgency of my daughter’s voice propelled me from the couch to the kitchen. I’d promised my oldest son a birthday meal on Sunday and one of my daughters (who shall remain nameless) had offered to help out by making the cake. My girls knew I was exhausted after a busy week of work and workshops.
I groaned at the sight on the kitchen table. The cake had stuck to the pan and come apart during my daughter’s efforts to remove it. I did the only thing I could think of to do: I dumped it upside down onto the other layer. My daughter and I stood there for a moment, staring at the mess before us.
“And just how do I fix this? I wondered, balking at my daughter’s urge to just “throw it away and buy a new one.” It was impossible to apply frosting to the debacle before us, but we tried. Valiantly.
“Maybe it will look better with the sprinkles,” my daughter suggested helpfully.
“It is an abomination before God,” another daughter added when she saw it. My three daughters agreed that I should head to Walmart on Sunday morning to purchase a replacement cake for their brother.
I came face to face with my failure to make even the simplest cake for my son when I opened the refrigerator door Sunday morning to get milk for my coffee. I stood there for a moment, coffee cup in hand, scrutinizing the cake. Then the realization hit me: The cake is a perfect metaphor for my life.
Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of my husband’s heart attack. The two-year anniversary of his death fast approaches. My “perfectly formed” life with a loving spouse broke into pieces on the morning of his death on March 27, 2012. For awhile, I wondered if my life, if our family’s life, could ever be put back together. A two-parent household suddenly became a single-parent one. An eight-year-old girl lost her best buddy, the daddy who’d held her hand, read her books, rode bikes with her, fed the birds, pulled weeds, and worked on math with her. Seven other children of varying ages faced a future without a Dad. Life did not look too pretty without David.
I have tried to put our life back together. Valiantly. I have frosted over the hole in my heart, sprinkled love on the wounds of my children. I look back on the last two years and know I have sometimes failed miserably in making the “cake” of our new life without David palatable: a Christmas dinner sans the ham and a subsequent emergency trip to a Kwik Star, my inability to babysit grandchildren during a time when my daughter needed me, so many grocery store runs that ended with me bolting out the door in tears because the peanut butter aisle was too much to handle, and so few math lessons because it was Daddy who handled the math. Those days our “cake” wobbles and the layers nearly slide apart. My feeble attempts at parenting alone fall far short of ideal.
My son Dan chuckled a little when he saw his birthday cake. There were no candles, but we did sing. Our attempts at cutting it into pieces produced what could only be called a “chunk” of cake. We hesitated only briefly before enthusiastically diving into the mess of cake. It turns out that how the cake looks has little to do with the taste.
My life now is that cake. It isn’t always pretty and it can crumble easily.
But life~my life~ sure is good.