This past weekend I did a lot of baking.
I baked cookies for a reception held after the funeral of our dear friend Mark Roberts on Saturday afternoon. And then I baked cupcakes for a baby shower held on Sunday afternoon for a dear friend from high school who is pregnant with her first child.
Two desserts, two very different occasions.
Although, as I reflect on the weekend, I’m realizing that these events were similar in some beautiful ways. While I felt like I had a bit of emotional whiplash by Sunday night, I’m now also very aware that saying goodbye to Mark and welcoming Hannah’s new baby were both amazing celebrations/affirmations of life.
We said goodbye to a friend who we remember as being very full of life. Mark was boisterous. When he was in the room, you knew it. And Mark was genuine. Whatever he was feeling and experiencing, he was honest about it. If he was feeling silly, he cackled and pretended to be Golem with a slightly Spanish accent. If he was was feeling worn down by the realities of poverty, he told us so. If he was feeling proud of his cats, he showed us pictures and waxed eloquently about their cuteness.
And Mark was generous. He would come into our Thrift Store drop-in to say hello, then go to the food bank. When he returned he would distribute a good percentage of his gleanings with the group, and was genuinely pleased to see granola bars, cake mixes, taco kits (you name it!) go to a good home.
I really miss my pal Mark, and I’m very grateful that so many of his friends and family members were able to come and celebrate his life on Saturday.
Then on Sunday, I was able to join in the joyful anticipation of a new life about to be introduced to the outside world! We wrote down our hopes and dreams for this baby girl, and gave gifts to her mom. We affirmed the goodness of the life of this new person (as painful as her arrival will be for Hannah), just as I had participated in the affirmation of the goodness of Mark’s life (as difficult as it was, in many ways, and as sad as its ending is for us).
Bookends, marked by celebration, pain… and desserts.