This week we remembered our son’s 16th birthday. Our baby boy, Noah, died when he was only 11 days old earth side and he now lives in Heaven, not with us.
(You can read the story of his life and death here )
If you are interested, I’d really love to share a song with you as you read through the rest of this post. Click on the link below.
On Wednesday he would have gone for his driver’s license. His big brother Jesse would have egged him on, no doubt. It’s a weird feeling having a child who you don’t know. I don’t know what he looks like, what his interests are, what his voice sounds like or how he interacts with his eight siblings. It’s a weird feeling.
Every June his birthday comes around, followed by the anniversary of his death, the funeral, and the horrid eleven days in between. It all leaves a sinking feeling deep in my heart as I wonder how on earth I do all of this again, year after year, for the rest of my life. It’s a weird feeling.
I want to make him a cake. I want to acknowledge that it’s actually a birthday, a celebration of a life. But that doesn’t feel right. He isn’t here. It’s not a celebration. To celebrate implies a happy occasion and his birthday doesn’t make me happy. He had a birth day, but not even one birthday. It’s so hard to get my head around it, and I don’t have the emotional energy to make a birthday cake for someone who doesn’t exist. Plus, what kind of cake do I make? A cool cake for a teenager? But He isn’t a teenager. That doesn’t feel right. I said goodbye to him as a newborn baby. But a baby cake doesn’t feel right either. Everything is so abstract. Here but not here. Invisible, intangible, but the pain is real.
So I make cupcakes. Cupcakes with angel wings.
I see these flowers in the florist and my heart skips a beat, as deep purple and ruby red are the colours I wore to his funeral. I wore a long, flowy bohemian skirt and top from the local markets. I loved the colours so much and they became an expression to me of my son Noah. These are my “Noah” colours.
On his birthday this week my hubby sent me some flowers, and God must have whispered into the ear of the florist as a huge bunch of deep red gerberas, magenta roses and the richest purple flowers arrived on our doorstep. Hubby wouldn’t have known how much these colours mean to me.
It’s the little things. Like colours. And flowers.
And books. Huckleberry Finn. And Tom Sawyer. Tolkien. Books that will never be read to my son. Books that I’m crazy about. Do you think I will be able to read to him in Heaven?
Have you ever wondered what grief looks like 16 years on? I remember talking with an older woman once who had lost a son many years ago. She casually mentioned to me that he would have recently turned thirty and she was the only person who remembered. I could hear the sting of grief and loneliness in her voice.
Grief is mostly a lonely journey. It is one you travel for the rest of your life by yourself. Like childbirth, and even death I imagine…it’s a narrow bridge and you have to walk across it alone. Caring, loving people can watch as you step onto the bridge, and greet you on the other end of it, but it’s a walk you have to walk essentially by yourself. Other people will remember your loved one, hug you, buy you flowers and cards, bringing enormous comfort, but it’s your mother heart that holds the grief. It is an intimate pain, not easily shared with others. No one else can really feel it the way you do. Except Jesus. My precious Jesus.
What have I learned from sixteen years of grief? That even through the heartache and pain, grief can be a gift. Losing Noah has been the single most significant event in my life that has brought me into unhindered intimacy with my Jesus. Knowing there is One who sees the deepest, darkest parts of my pain has made all the difference. I truly believe that the King of all creation weeps with His children who are hurting. I have learnt to lift up my heart unto Jesus through the storm. My favourite lines in this song you are (hopefully) listening to are,
What’s true in the light is still true in the dark.
You’re good and you’re kind and you care for this heart.
Lord, I believe, that You weep with me.
And yes, for any dear, precious, grieving mothers out there who have just buried their newborn babies, let me tell you….no, let me hug you close, feel your heart break, let you grieve, wipe your tears and gently reassure you that yes,
You will make it.
You will get through this.
You will not forever feel like you are being torn apart from the inside out. You will smile again, laugh again, walk through the supermarket without wanting to sob your heart out again.
You will get stronger.
It does get easier. I promise you.
One thing that helps a grieving heart is to do something therapeutic, something meaningful that you enjoy. It really does help. Distraction is your new best friend. Early on in my loss it felt like the whole world slowed down and I suddenly craved stillness, noticing sunshine, colours, wind in the trees and the rhythm of my own breathing as if for the very first time. It was like looking at the world from the outside in.
Back then it was quilting that helped me through. Keeping my hands busy stitching thread in and out of beautiful fabric. It was meditative and literally kept my internal screaming at bay.
This year, baking and photographing these cupcakes was therapeutic. My pain is not as acute anymore. More accurately, the intensity of grief is less frequent. It still comes, especially in June, but it doesn’t stay as long as it used to.
If you are looking for any kind of comfort food, then this recipe is for you. These cupcakes are moist, full of chocolatey flavour with bursts of juicy fresh raspberries. Topped with creamy white chocolate buttercream, all you will need is a hot cuppa, a good book and a comfy chair by the fire.
Chocolate & Raspberry Cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream
A rich chocolate cupcake made with fresh raspberries and decadent white chocolate buttercream.
- 2 eggs lighty beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or good quality vanilla extract
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup strong coffee, cooled
- 2 cups plain flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarb soda
- 1 cup pure cocoa powder
- 1 punnet fresh raspberries You can use frozen berries instead
- 125 g butter, softened
- 125 g cream cheese, chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or extract
- 3 - 4 cups icing mixture
- 200 g block of white chocolate, melted
- 1 -4 tblsp milk if needed
- fresh raspberries to decorate
Preheat oven to 180C
Line two muffin trays with papers
In a large mixing bowl, using a hand whisk, mix together eggs, vanilla and oil
Add sour cream. Whisk well.
Add coffee mixture. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, sift flour, sugar, bicarb soda, baking powder and cocoa. Whisk until well combined.
Carefully pour wet mixture into dry mix and whisk well using a hand whisk, until well combined. If it is too dry, add up to 1/4 cup milk.
Carefully place 3 or 4 so raspberries in each cupcake. Push slightly into the cake batter. It's nice if you can still see some of the raspberries on the top.
Using an ice cream scoop, place cupcake mixture into prepared papers until each is 2/3 full.
Bake in moderate oven 18 minutes or until firm to touch.Place on a wire rack to cool. Frost cupcakes
White chocolate buttercream frosting
In an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until light and creamy, about 3 minutes.
Add 125 g cream cheese and continue to beat another 2 or 3 minutes until very light and creamy.
Turn mixer onto low and add vanilla and icing mixture, a little at a time
Carefully add melted chocolate and more icing mixture. Add tablespoons of milk if mixture is getting thick.
Add Wilton Icing Whitener if you want a pure white colour.
Using a piping bag, pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top with a fresh raspberry. Enjoy.
I want to genuinely thank you wonderful readers for taking the time to listen to my heart today. Something else that goes a long way to helping heal a broken heart is being able to share your story, to feel like you are heard, even in a small way. Somehow it helps to validate your experience in the hope that others may glean from your own journey.
with much love,