It would be their first supper since returning from a honeymoon in Mexico so Molly wanted it to be special. The lasagna was ready for the oven, a lemon meringue pie was cooling and now she was on the hunt for a recipe that might satisfy her husband’s ever-present craving for chocolate.
Hmm, Choco-chip Crunchies. Easy recipe and I have all the ingredients. Perfect.
Molly smiled as she anticipated Michael’s return.
“Got anymore of those cookies, Moll?” Michael’s voice carried down the hall to the nursery. Molly pictured him rummaging through containers on the counter.
“Don’t you remember eating the last of them while watching the game yesterday? Feel free to make some more. Yellow book, on the shelf by the fridge. Page 192.”
“As if your daddy’s gonna do any baking.” Molly tickled their nine-month-old daughter as she changed her diaper. “Two years of cookies and they’ve become his main food group.” Lisa-Joy kicked excitedly, tongue between cherub lips in an attempt to give her opinion, but giving instead baby-spit and drool.
As Michael reached for the TV remote, Molly placed Lisa in his arms, winking as she went to the kitchen.
“Can you survive for half an hour? I’ll try and make them before you faint.”
Though she was tired and longed to just sit, she realized the cookies had become Michael’s love language. They were a tangible way to express her appreciation and build him up…literally.
Starting the mixer, Molly heard Michael explaining the intricacies of football to their daughter.
Thank you for these gifts, Lord.
The screen door slammed announcing Lisa’s return from kindergarten. Molly, having just settled one-year-old twins, Mark and Matthew, hadn’t noticed the bus in the driveway, hadn’t shut the bedroom door to muffle Lisa’s arrival. As soon as they heard their sister’s voice they started to stir. Molly groaned.
“Mom? Where are you?” Dropping her bag at the door Lisa continued with her loud, five-year-old voice. “My teacher agreed with my suggestion to have your cookies for our snack tomorrow. Can we make them now?”
From the doorway of the boys’ room, Molly put her fingers to her lips. Her gesture went unnoticed as Lisa struggled to get the mixer out of the cupboard, letting the door shut with a bang.
Molly watched her daughter’s face contort. Her lower lip started to quiver and big tears rolled down each rosy cheek.
Setting the mixer on the counter, Molly pulled Lisa into her arms, placing a noisy kiss on the youngster’s cheek. “I’m sorry, sweetie. Mommy’s just frustrated ‘cause the boys need their sleep and you spoke so loudly they woke up.”
Sniffling, Lisa ran her fingers through her mother’s hair, then went on to explain.
“Teacher asked us how we know when someone, like our parents, love us. I said I know Mommy loves me ‘cause she makes Choco-chip Crunchies. Teacher liked my answer so I said I would bring some for everyone to try.”
“Hey Babe. Whatcha doing?”
Lisa turned to greet Lucas. “Thought I’d bake some cookies for Dad.”
Finger under his wife’s chin, he drew her eyes to his. “Why so sad?”
“Just thinking about Mom. The last time she baked cookies was for a church potluck. There was a standing order for them. A few days later she started chemo.”
Overwhelmed by fresh grief, Lisa leaned into her husband’s chest and sobbed.
Michael led Lisa into the kitchen and reached for the coffee. “I remember the first time your mom baked these. I walked into the apartment after work and was wrapped up by the smell.”
“She always called them her “love gifts”; baked to remind me of how valuable I was to her.” His voice broke.
“She’d bake cookies for newcomers in the neighborhood or people who were sick. “Comfort food” she’d say. “Just doing my part to build up the body.””
Lisa cleared her throat. “Hard to believe it’s already been a year. Will the ache ever stop?”
“Yeh, I’m sure it will. Probably not as quick as we want, but if we keep up your mother’s ministry, maybe it’ll ease a little. George, across the street’s been sick awhile. Feel like doing some body-building?”
The door opened slowly. “Hi Stella. Thought you and your husband might like some cookies. We wanted you to know we’re here to help if there’s anything you need. You don’t have to go through this alone.”
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