January 5, 2012
I’ve always been fascinated by coincidences. I think about them often, more than seems normal (even to me), musing on their meaning—or lack there of?—nearly every time I experience one. Are coincidences inconsequential? Or does everything happen with purpose? Can both things be true? I’m not sure but, in the end, the fact that coincidences make me stop and think—not some inherent meaning—makes them significant to me.
This post, the first of 2012, is brought to you by coincidence. And though I typically loathe the barrage of new year year exultations about a new you! a look ahead! change for the better, healthier and more organized! I’m about to write something along those lines. (Sorta.)
Blame the persimmon coincidence.
Maybe you’ve noticed that I haven’t really been here in a while. I posted through the holidays, it’s true, but it was all about you. I was thrilled to focus on helping you through holiday cooking and giving you gifts because I love you and also because I needed a space to focus on something other than what was happening at home through the holiday madness. Then, once Christmas arrived, I disappeared into family life. (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, by the way!) It was time to just be at home with my family.
Over the last three months you may have caught passing mention that my 2-year-old Hungry Baby has been stumping doctors. First the pediatrician, then an orthopedist, a rheumatologist, back to the orthopedist and, finally, an endocrinologist. Nobody has been able to explain his curious combination of symptoms. With nothing conclusive from these specialists, we were told it was time to see an oncologist to rule out cancer.
There are no words to explain the feeling that pounds your body when you hear that your child’s symptoms might indicate a bone tumor. I hope I never know what it feels like to hear that a tumor is, in fact, the explanation.
All of this happened between October and early December. Then, three days before Christmas, the Hungry Papa and I took our baby to the Memorial Sloan Kettering pediatric cancer center. That day, even before we saw the doctor, I knew it—I felt it—I’d changed. There was no way I couldn’t have in the face of such profound love, care and bravery. Stalwart children, broken-hearted parents and the kindest, most patient medical staff I’ve ever come across were all working together to fight like hell. With smiles on their faces. As I sat displaced, wondering if we’d be back to join the community or if we’d get the distinction of never having to return, I focused on experiencing the discomfort of being in what was the hardest and also most inspiring places I’d ever been.
When we finally saw the doctor, she ran tests and gave the Hungry Baby an x-ray. All looked good. She felt confident that cancer was not the cause of his symptoms. I could rest easier during the holidays (which I did, by the way). We scheduled one more visit, which happened this past Tuesday, to get a bone scan. Our doctors wanted to be sure that he didn’t have a tumor. I’m waiting for the call with the results as I type.
I wasn’t going to tell this story today. The plan was to write after we get the bone scan results. That will determine everything—whether my life will go back to “normal” or if everything will change. It seemed to make more sense to write knowing more about what my life will look like. But then a coincidence involving persimmons (baked ones, to be exact), got me thinking: my life is now. I had to write today even though I have no idea what the doctor will say when she calls this afternoon. Because we never really have any idea what will happen next, right?
See, while looking through photos to remind myself of the recipes I hope to post in the coming weeks, I came across Baked Persimmons that I’d forgotten about. Right. Persimmons! The photo spurred a little research and about an hour ago, I came across this tidbit: in Buddhism, the persimmon is a symbol of transformation.
It suddenly all crystallized, reading the word, first to myself, then aloud, with a nervous tummy waiting for the phone to ring. I didn’t change that first day at Memorial Sloan Kettering, it was just a reminder that I’m always changing. Transforming. Working hard to be brave, loving, generous and accepting. Change isn’t a blockbuster instance (even though I know from other experiences that it can feel that way). Maybe that’s why all that new year’s resolutions stuff bugs me. There’s no point in waiting and once the moment we’ve been waiting for comes, it doesn’t just all click into place. It’s the little transformations we go through everyday that make us who we are and prepare us for those big moments when it all becomes clear.
There was no point in waiting to write—I had to write now. So here I am, wondering what’s in store for my little boy and my family, bearing a recipe for Baked Persimmons. And it feels okay. Like maybe even an auspicious start to 2012. I can only hope. And will, of course, keep you posted.
Happy new year. I hope 2012 is, above all else, a healthy one for you and your family.
PS: I wasn’t able to post this before the bone scan results came in. IT’S GOOD NEWS! The Hungry Baby is all clear. We still have to piece together what’s going on, but cancer, along with most of the other scariest possibilities, have been ruled out. And, just so you know, I’d hoped to edit this, but decided against it. I didn’t want my knowledge of the good news to inadvertently change the feeling of my post, so please forgive the messy writing!
(can be adapted for kids 6+ mos)*
makes 6-8 servings
3 persimmons, peeled
1 tablespoon light brown sugar (you can substitute honey if feeding eaters 12+ mos)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom of a roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet. Cut persimmons into 1/2″-thick slices and lay in prepped pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the slices and bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh ricotta cheese whisked with honey (only for kids 12+ mos) and a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or cardamom.
*Note: Skip the topping and puree or cut fruit into age-appropraite consistency or bites to share with young eaters. Never use honey as a sweetener for kids under 12-months-old, even when the honey will be cooked.