I woke up much earlier than usual, and my stomach was queasy with a feeling that something was not too right. I had forgotten to close the windows the night before and a harsh, cool breeze was pushing its way into my warm bedroom.
I headed into the kitchen and decided to calm my mind by cooking something.
I opened up the refrigerator to get an idea of what I had to work with. A roasted Hokkaido pumpkin from last night’s dinner, 4 potatoes, tomatoes, beef cuts, left-over red wine, an orange, some bone both…and yes! perfect: I decided that I would make beef bourguignon and a batch of chewy, almond chocolate chip cookies.
I seared the pieces of meat in my pan and smiled at the memory of the last time that I had made this dish.
I was with Crystal. Well, sort of. Crystal was my very fist room-mate and friend in college. She looked like a younger version of Maria Callas, with her think frame, olive skin, and long dark hair, sleek and elegant.
Crystal had been suffering from severe insomnia So, around 1am her time when I was starting my morning, she would always call through and we would chat for a while. One morning, she was raving to me about the movie Julie and Julia, which I hadn’t seen yet. So, she promptly turned her computer towards her television and turned on the movie for both of us to watch. We both enjoyed the movie from our perspective beds across the Atlantic, laughing, commenting, eating breakfast (me) and popcorn (her).
I finished the stew, and that uneasy feeling from earlier crept over me once again. I decided to go to the gym to shake off this weird energy. On my way home, my best friend in Germany, Asiki called me. We exchanged a few words, and before I could continue my sentence, the building in front of me disappeared, the ground from beneath my feet ceased to support my body, and I found myself on the pavement, looked up into the thick, grey blanket of clouds.
The pain.The excruciating pain.
I swallowed and tasted blood. I tried desperately to move my head, but it refused to cooperate. I heard man’s voice to my left and my eyes saw a man running towards me.
He stared down at me, petrified. I stared up at him, confused.
A phone ring from a distance and he quickly ran over to where my phone had fallen, and answered the phone for me, placing it next to my ears. It was Asiki and she was rattling off at a thousand miles an hour.
“What happened. All I heard was a thump and then you didn’t talk to me anymore, and then I heard all these noises and I was screaming out to you, and you wouldn’t answer and then my imagination started to go off in all directions and then I was worried and then…”
“Asiki!” I screamed into the phone with the last bit of energy that my body held. The rest is a blur, and all I can recall is that I was taken to the hospital, told that I had a broken knee which was attended to, and taken back home with a plastic bag holding my phone and my watch (the face of which was completely smattered, and stuck on 11:01 am).
I called Crystal, as soon as I got home. I wanted to check in on her and I had to tell her this silly news that I had tripped over my own two feet and broken a knee. She would certainly have a good laugh at that one.
The phone continued to ring.
She had texted me excitedly the night before telling me that she would be starting a new chemo drug, which was expected to be really effective.
Before I could put my phone down, my mom called my over Skype.
Her “hello,” was enough to tell me that something was up.
“What going on?” I bitched out. The tone of her voice frighted me.
“Oh, so, so-you-you don’t know…the inflection of her voice went up, like a question and sat firmly like a statement at the same time.
“Don’t-know-what?” What is going on”…I finally shouted out.
She saw a posting on Facebook that Crystal had passed away that morning at 5.
I grew angry and angrier with every proceeding second, and then the questions flew out of my mouth, illogical and emotional.
How could my mother get a message from my friend on FB before me?
Hang on, how would she know what was going on with my best friend before me? Wait a minute, what is my mother doing on Facebook anyway?
Then the words sunk in, and I felt as if I was going to suffocate. I had to literally gasp for air.
“What-time-did-you-say she passed Mom?”
“5 o’clock this morning.” She confirmed.
My chest caved in and the lump in my throat exploded. I sounded like a cow giving birth. The outpour continued for over after hour, and my mom remained on Skype the entire time, saying nothing; silently comforting me with her presence over the computer.
I had cried my eyes to a swollen mound and I could barely open them.
I felt for my phone (since I was unable to see anything), and dialled Crystal’s number again….maybe..just maybe. It rang and rang and rang into a deep, dark, silence.
Her last message to me was less than 11 hours ago: I Love you, my dear friend. Call you in the morning.
I left a voice message anyway: I love you Crystal. I will always love you!
I played Maria Callas and turned up the volume as loud as it possibly could, to her favourite Aria, and let the tears melt into the melody of Un bel dì.
Crystal and I spend most of our time baking together, or asking about what we did in the kitchen. One of the last times I saw her in person was in New York. We hung out at a bar, drank wine and salted turmeric popcorn, which has now become a favourite in our household.
Salted Tumeric Popcorn
A turmeric-flavoured popcorn
- 3 tbs. coconut oil
- 1/2 unpopped popcorn kernels
- 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. tumeric powder
- 1/4 tsp. of black pepper
- Optional 1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
- 3 tbsp. of melted coconut oil or butter
- Step 1 Melt the coconut oil on medium-high heat in a saucepan,
- Step 2 Turn down the heat to medium-low, and add the popcorn kernels and cover up the pan. Shake the pan once you hear the kernels starting to pop, and turn the heat to low, until you don’t hear any more popping.
- Step 3 Pour the popcorn into a large bowl.
- Step 4 Drizzle with more oil or butter and then sprinkle with the mixture of salt, turmeric, garlic powder and pepper.
- Step 5 Mix until all the popcorn is well-mixed.