Welcome to Middle Age

I was on the phone with my husband’s step mother the other day, and she welcomed me to middle age. Sounds like kind of a cruel thing to say, right? But, as it turns out, it was both enlightening and comforting. It wasn’t my birthday, by the way. We were just having a conversation about my life as of late. Of mothers and daughters, and reaching the age where those relationships significantly change. And, yes, it definitely appears that I am at that crux.

The past year wasn’t my happiest. I have been debating whether to mention what has been going on, writing, rewriting and then trashing posts, deciding to stick to simpler, more cheerful topics and the good news (which I certainly had my fair share of). But mostly staying away. Staying away from the blog. Staying away from pot lucks and parties. Staying quiet when people ask how things are going. I don’t want to lie, but I hate to be a downer. And truthfully, it was a downer of a year.

First, my daughter’s father and daughter moved. Not across town, but to another state. And not the state that is just a two hour drive away. It’s a long story, and one I’ve been fighting for years and years. Finally, I had to let go. She’s started in a new school, and she is doing very well. She’s still the same wonderful daughter. She’s still just as talented (she even has an album on iTunes!) and lovely and all those wonderful daughter things. But every day, I miss her terribly as I’m sure you can imagine. I am counting the days until summer.

Also, my mother is very sick. After over 5 cancer free years, she found out last June that the cancer is back. My mom isn’t one to sit and wait. She’s a fighter. But, this time, the fight has been different. It’s not about fixing or curing. It’s about slowing down, getting comfortable and saying her peace. Last July she started chemo, and despite the hair loss and nausea, it greatly improved her quality of life. We had some lovely time together; unexpected months that the chemo gave us. She had improved so much, we started having hope that she’d be able to tough it out for quite a while. Since the holidays, however, it has come back fast and fierce, and her fight is coming to an end. I hate to say goodbye, but I hate even more to see her suffering. I’ve been in through this before, with my other mother. The final days of terminal cancer are no way to live, and we’ve reached that point.

CE Family Dishes-4.tifCE Family Dishes-8.tif
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So, I am focusing on my last visit out, where she could walk around the house, free from her oxygen machine, for 30 minutes at a time. She wanted me to go through her things, and decide what I wanted. This is a horrible thing to have to do, but I am grateful for the time it gave us together. She wanted me to have these things, things that were so important to her. No, that’s not quite right. The things weren’t important to her. But each dish, each picture, each trinket had a story of where it had come from or an idea of something she wanted to create. That was what was important and what she wanted to share with me.

I have no recipe for you. Just a few photos of some of the things that make up the story of my mom’s life, and an ask that you send positive, comforting thoughts her way. These next few days are going to be hard.

update: Thanks everyone for your kind and generous thoughts. Just after I posted this, my mother passed into peace.

  • Carol

    So very sorry to read of your mother passing. My prayers are with you and i hope you find comfort in fond memories of your mom. My mom passed away 20 years ago from breast cancer and hardly a day goes by where i don’t think of her. Remember a mother’s love forever lives in your heart.

  • http://www.cuinaperllaminers.com/ Mercè

    Dear Lara, I am sorry to read this. :( Sending hugs and positive thoughts your way!
    I really feel what you mean… This past year was the worst in my life with my dad’s sudden loss.
    Hang in there and wish you lots of happiness.

  • http://www.woodshopartisans.com/foodpursued/ Angela

    Thank you for sharing your life with us all. Your blog is a true pleasure to read and not only for happy, light posts, but because it’s so genuine. I wish you much peace and comfort and even joy in the coming months.

  • http://teaandcookiesblog.com tea_austen

    Oh, Lara–I am so sorry to hear the news. I can imagine how heartbreaking all of this must be.

    I think I must be middle aged too. All of a sudden, the past few months, I have been overwhelmed by the sheer fragility of life. Friends and family sick, facing huge losses. It’s hard to balance that fear with the wonder of life and joy. It’s really hard.

    Sending all love, and hoping the rest of this year brings you healing and wholeness, and a lovely summer with your girl. xox

  • Karen

    Laura, I’m so sorry for your loss. I am glad to read that you and your mother had time to spend together. When my mother died of cancer, other family members wanted jewelry, that sort of thing. I asked my father for some things that connected me to mom in the kitchen: her old 3-minute egg timer; a Pyrex double boiler. Now, 13 years after her passing, walking into my kitchen and using her kitchen tools makes me smile and brings back wonderful memories of cooking with my mom. You’ll miss your mother every day, but the sharpness of grief will mellow out and the good memories will help to heal.

  • mollie

    Lara, i’m sorry for your loss. I’m glad you did get to spend some quality time with your mother. I hope the days get brighter for you as summer approaches. Keeping you in my thoughts…

  • http://www.pinkbites.com Rita

    Hi Laura

    Just wanted to say how deeply and closely your post resonated with me. A lot of similar things going on with me (only I am the daughter), and I know how you feel in so many ways, especially not wanting to share your sad feelings on your beautiful blog. Sometimes it’s a such a fine line. I send you all my love and hope you manage to find peace at heart, for most of the time at least.

  • http://www.blackcurrantphotography.com.au Kell

    Much love Lara, I hope for some brighter days for you soon.

  • http://www.saladinajar.com Paula (Salad in a Jar)

    So sorry to hear about your mother. I just lost my beloved father two weeks ago so I feel your pain. How thoughtful of your mom to give you even more special memories with her kitchen tools. What could be more appropriate for a food photographer?

  • http://www.familyfriendlyfood.com/ Nurit – 1 family. friendly. food.

    Oh, Lara, I am so sorry to hear about this.
    I remember you brought up some of these things that you went thru when we met at Myra’s place a few months ago. You looked a bit suprised (about yourself, I guessed) after you mentioned them and so I didn’t want to push for more details. I sure wanted to listen to more, and you questions, and hear the stories…
    I hate to feel like I’m a downer too (especially at a potluck/party) but I know that as a listener, I love these conversations with people–this is the real stuff! Real life. It’s not, it’s mostly not, a party, especially at our age.
    It’s good to have a few things from a parent as keepsake. It’s good you were there and she said it to you.
    Sending a hug, Nurit

  • http://www.perfect-beginning.blogspot.com/ Joyce

    Lara, I am sorry to hear about your daughter’s move and the loss of your mom. You have have had a lot on your plate. Sending you big hugs and warm thoughts. xo

  • http://www.zomppa.com Belinda @zomppa

    I’m so sorry to hear of these difficult times. Warm thoughts are with you and yours.

  • http://melinaphotos.com melinaphotos

    lara, i haven’t read your blog in a while and found it so refreshing that you shared of yourself – and not just the latest, happy news accomplishments. reading further, i was so saddened to hear of your transitions and losses. thinking of my own parents, i cannot imagine the quiet devastation you may be feeling. only, i am happy you had time with her. you have made me cry and i wish you love and lots and lots of memories to make you smile, enjoying your time around your mama. all best to you.

  • http://kitchen-notebook.blogspot.com/ Lucy

    Lara, I am so sorry to hear about everything that has happened. You are an inspiration to many people, and of course we will be here for your as you gain your strength back after this terribly difficult time in your life. Sending love and peace and a big hug your way.

  • http://lacaffettierarosa.wordpress.com Caffettiera

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. In our family we always had go to through possessions when the owner was no longer there. It is maybe even more heartbreaking. At least you can recall her being there with you when you see those objects again. Thanks for sharing with us the beautiful pictures. I hope you feel better soon.

  • http://www.kitchenparade.com Alanna

    Dearest Lara, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, there are unimaginable holes in your life right now. Go easy …

  • http://www.elisabeth-coelfen.com/blog Elisabeth Coelfen

    Lara, I think of you and I am with you these days. I have been reading your blog for some time. My mother is not dead, but suffering from dementia so she does not recognize me any more. It is so important for me to have her kitchen utensils that let me think of the good times we had together baking and cooking. Love from Germany

  • http://www.epicuriouserin.blogspot.com Erin @ epiCURIOUS ERIN

    Hi Lara,
    I’m a new reader but I felt I had to say something. I just lost my father to cancer, we fought it very hard but we couldn’t get ahead of it. Watching him get weaker and weaker and finally not being able to comprehend what was happening was very painful for me. I miss him everyday and I understand how important that moment with your mother was. As disturbed as I found many of the conversations I had with my father to be, they were laced with a kind of magic. We knew how important these moments were to each other.
    I won’t say feel better, because I sure don’t yet, but I hope you feel a little lighter each day.

  • http://www.emilygooch.com Emily Gooch

    Lara, even though we don’t know each other personally, I’ve been following your blog for sometime and your work truely inspires me. With that said, sending you warm thoughts and wishes.

  • http://mykeuken.blogspot.com Lisa H.

    Hi Lara,
    I am deeply sorry for your loss…
    I lost my dad to liver cancer in July last year. Still miss him much… I believe they are in a better place now
    Take care

  • http://thefridgedoor.blogspot.com/ Wendee

    Thank you for choosing to share this with us. I’m so sorry that this has been such a tough time for you… Sending warm wishes your way, with hopes that the days get a little bit lighter, one day at a time.

  • http://nomnom.blogsome.com Alice

    Lara, I am so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through.

    I lost my mom five years ago not to cancer but to old age. She shows up in my dreams all the time, and it’s comforting. I hope as time goes by, you will find comfort in her things and your memories. We never stop being our mom’s child, and we never stop being a mom.

  • http://www.holyfruitsalad.blogspot.com creezy

    Just read your sad news today but I will wish you a lot of power and strength and I hope, you will take care of you in those hard times.

    A friend told me, when my Mom passed away in 2006, that this it’s the moment a daughter has to learn walking free for one more time. What’s true, I have to admit now I „went“ through it. On the other side, living without my mom, brought up a completely new quality into my live. A new quality of seeing things in a different light, thinking new beautiful thoughts, taking things in a more clearer way. And no – it’s not that bad.

    Take care!

  • http://Plantedathome.com Lorene

    Blessing to you on your courage to share. Hopefully the support and love in return will ease this next year of mourning. Summer does come…

  • Bev


    I happened to stumble on your blog looking for doughnut recipes. My father just passed away to on Feb 5th this year of lung cancer after fighting and beating prostrate cancer 2 years ago. I can therefore profess to feel a bit of what you are going through. I have my good days and bad and though I still go on, its never easy to lose your parent. I wish you well and many blessings to you as you go through your grief.


  • http://myfeasts.com Maya

    So sorry for you loss…

  • http://rileymadel.blogspot.com snippets of thyme

    I am so sorry. As i was getting to know your blog I came across this post. I haven’t been in this situation yet but have known people describe everything as you do. I am so sorry you are going through such a difficult time.

  • Rosa

    Hi Lara,
    I just found your blog. I’m sorry to hear about your loss and everything that you have and are going through. My heart goes out to you. I’m sending hugs your way. :-)