20. This Time Last Year and Lime Drizzle

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This time last year was around the time the shock of grief subsided and a terrible darkness closed in around me. Arranging a funeral keeps you alive those first few weeks. Though you couldn’t possibly go to work or function in a normal way you have things to do, and this protects you. Your time at home is broken up by tasks that are weighty with meaning, because they are tasks that you are doing for the person you have lost. You haven’t been able to say goodbye properly: instead, you create for them the most apt funeral you can. It is all you can do. And these tasks give some structure to your days; today we will visit the florist. Tomorrow we will see the caterer. Little by little the days pass. Then the funeral comes, and you are left with absolutely nothing to cling to.

It’s hard to verbalise this feeling. It’s difficult even to remember it. Suffice to say I had no idea that one could sink so low. I felt empty. The hole that Greg had left gnawed away at me, chewing me up from my stomach outwards. I thought nothing. I did not want to think or feel, I had nothing to say, I had no desire to do anything.

Every second was agonising and I filled it with back to back television that I sat in front of, emotionless, from the minute I woke to the minute I slept. I left my room only for food and water. I saw no one but my mum who was becoming desperately worried as I retreated into myself and refused to talk. Everything was too unbearable. I kept saying, angrily, “it’s not that I’m not talking – it’s just that there’s nothing to say!” My mind was blank; it’s almost like the pain I was feeling escaped verbal representation, even in my own thoughts. There were no words I could use to convey this horror. And anyway, I thought, you know what’s wrong. You’re feeling it yourself. I have nothing to add.

To really feel complete hopelessness is unimaginably devastating.

For me, things improved only with a trip to the doctor. They might have improved themselves, with the passing of time, but they might not have – and it’s only too clear what the alternative may have been.

Hopelessness is now a thing of the past, and if I’m lucky it will remain there.

*

The Cooking – Lime Drizzle Cake

This weekend my boyfriend and I went to some friend’s for a Mexican themed dinner party. We’ve all been to Mexico and LOVE the food, which is nothing like the various mince and kidney bean combos we call Mexican over here. I brought dessert, but in my experience Mexicans don’t really do dessert. Other than churros, which are more of a snack, I couldn’t think of a classic Mexican pudding. So I improvised with Mexican flavours: lime, chilli, and chocolate.

I found a recipe on bbc good food for a ‘zingy lime drizzle’ cake, and decided to go with that. Cooking after work necessitated something quick and easy, which this was! Whisk up a standard cake mixture and bake it. Heat up sugar, lime juice and lime zest to make the syrup, and soak the cake by piercing it in multiple places before pouring the syrup over. I decided I wanted a little more luxury so melted down some butter and chocolate to which I added a teaspoon of chilli powder. I poured this over the cake to create a chilli chocolate coating.

This was a great cake: thoroughly saturated with zesty fresh lime, a moist dense sponge, and a thick dark chocolate coating. The chocolate and lime worked well together, but the chilli wasn’t particularly evident. It probably falls into the category of a ‘tea and cake’ cake rather than dessert – but with some added ice cream or cream it could do the job. For us it worked well as a bit of stodge to soak up our many margaritas!  Taster quote: ‘It’s really good!’

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