Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. – Unknown
My heart aches. A close friend of my family, Elayne, passed away peacefully in her sleep Saturday morning. It was sudden and unexpected, much like when my grandfather passed away a decade ago. She leaves behind a wonderful husband, daughters, grandchildren and so many friends.
Elayne was a wonderful woman — a warm, welcoming presence who made everyone feel special and important. She lived fully. When I first met her as a child, I was drawn to her. It’s a well-known fact among our families and neighbors that back then I would leave little notes for Elayne on her front porch. I’d dash down the sidewalk, feeling so stealth, and drop the notes on her mat. She never minded — in fact, she cherished them and recently told my son about what I used to do.
I have so many fond memories of Elayne — both as a child and an adult. As a tween and teen, we talked often about my future. She urged me to combine my passion with something that would support me. She was right. And when I was married, she was there with a wide smile and the kindest of words.
So, why a cheesecake? Another infamous story about Elayne and I recalls how one summer evening when I was 10 or so, she appeared on our doorstep and asked me if I wanted to walk to a nearby restaurant for dessert. It was a short walk, but I felt so grown up doing it. We ordered cheesecake to share. It was special.
One of the last times I saw Elayne was a little more than a month ago — before Hurricane Irene. I was off for a ride on my pink beach cruiser with my brightly flowered helmet. As I passed her house, we exchanged hellos and she complimented my gear. I giggled. Little did she know that it was her daughter that influenced me to start wearing a helmet again — however reluctantly. Losing Elayne … there just are no words to explain what a tremendous void it leaves.
I am better for having known Elayne, and for that I am grateful.
(No recipe today … I’m still working on it. The first try wasn’t perfect … ok. Far from it. Half the cheesecake ended up on the baking sheet. The flavor was awesome … the method was flawed. Stay tuned. It’s coming.)
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.