Today, I broke in the new KitchenAid mixer and baked the first cookies I’ve made since Micah passed. Micah, in many ways, was my inspiration for baking.
It started as a simple concept–I was the family chef. If there was food to be made or prepared, it was likely that I was preparing it. Sometimes this was as simple as seasoning hamburger patties and baking them for 25 minutes. At other times, this was as complicated as preparing the First Seder for Passover or Thanksgiving Dinner or some other special meal that I felt like whipping up.
A few years back, after tasting some of the best cookies I’d ever had, made fresh by my boss, I thought about baking some cookies myself. I mentioned the idea aloud to Micah one afternoon after he got home from school. “Yeah–you should definitely make cookies Dad, if they’re as good as your brisket, you can sell them,” he told me. As much as I wasn’t interested in baking for profit, the fact that Micah wanted me to bake them–that he just knew they would be good and thought they would be good enough to sell–I decided to find a recipe and bake.
I Googled a nice, simple recipe that looked like it would give me some flexibility to tinker with the ingredients. (I’m a tinkerer at heart, and this was very important to me.) I made the first batch–and everyone loved them, Micah especially. “See, I told you they’d be great Dad!” If I needed any evidence that they were actually appreciated, it was simply watching how quickly five dozen cookies vanished–and how quickly the request came to make the next batch. I tried different variations–different background flavoring, from banana to lemon to coconut to chocolate to pistachio, different add-ins: semisweet chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, various types of crushed and slivered nuts, M&Ms, dark chocolate-covered raisins, mint chips. You name it, I tried it in a batch or two. I don’t think I really ever found a combination that wasn’t popular.
Micah would ask for a bag of cookies to take to his friends at school. I would make a plate of cookies to take to work for my coworkers. Cynthia would take a plate to her coworkers, office staff, or just for herself and her students. Avi would ask to take cookies to school with her for her friends.
As much as I hate making a mess, and as messy as it can be to make a batch of cookies from scratch, I probably made a batch or two a week for quite some time. This isn’t to say that I don’t make messes–I just don’t like to create them–I’m horrible at cleaning them up. Then life took over. Instead of a batch a week, it became a batch every couple weeks, then maybe one per month…then, well… Micah and Avi both bugged me to bake cookies for them, but Micah specifically told me I should bake them because “you know you want to bake them.” Then Micah passed away. I know it sounds silly, stupid even, but somewhere down my list of regrets was that I never got to make Micah another batch of cookies.
A couple weeks after the funeral, I finally took the plunge and bought a nice stand mixer–the kind that we’d always talked about needing for my cookie “business,” but that I could never see being worth the $300-400 cost. However, if I was going to try and move forward, I needed to bake again to be “normal,” or so I thought. That was early February. It’s now April 16th, and I’ve FINALLY opened the box and taken out the mixer…and made that first batch of cookies.
My driving thought as I pulled together the ingredients, cleared off countertop space, sliced up the quarters of butter for melting–this batch is for Micah. I pondered the idea of taking a plate of cookies to the cemetery. Where would I put them? Would they just attract insects and rodents that would somehow disturb my son’s resting place? In the end, I think it was going to be sufficient for me just to know I made these cookies for him.
No, I’m definitely not moving on yet. I don’t know if this is a part of the healing process, me licking my wounds (even if they are coated in chocolate chip cookie dough at the moment), me trying to create a “new normal” that pays homage to my memories of Micah, or just me looking for something else to do this afternoon. I just know that I’m sitting at the kitchen table, looking at the batch of cookies that I have made, and thinking how much I wish I could see the smile on Micah’s face as he bites into one.