death doesn't discriminate

recipe: chai white chocolate scones

Change is an undeniable part of life. I’ve been an ongoing pupil of this lesson since my earliest memories. This change we’re all experiencing, though, is something deeper.

Once we make our way through to the other side of this virus, life will forever be different. It’s more than just an update to how we operate—it’s a whole new OS, and wow are there a lot of bugs to be worked out before we understand what normal will look like when it begins to take shape again.

Grief has taught me it’s possible to get through the most turbulent of times. Sometimes the armors we created crumple, like umbrellas twisted and popped open in a storm. We’re all nature’s marionettes to some extent.

Someone I follow on Instagram posted an incredible photo of the moonrise in Italy. It looked just as magnificent as the moonrise I witnessed while driving back to our rental house from Provincetown that same evening, and it reminded me of what I always tell my daughters—“we before me”. We are all connected, part of the same world, and recognizing that is the foundation to building a good, kind and thoughtful society.

The girls and I are the Cape right now. Our trip was very spontaneous, coming together in less than a week. The house we rented for years in North Truro was finally sold. It’d been on the market for a few years now, and every summer threatened to be our last there. The owners had even told us so when we booked it last August, and then I got an email around December, saying they were going to rent for one last season.

I had mixed feelings about going back even though I’d said yes. We bid our goodbyes last summer, and in a way going back again this year would’ve been opening a Pandora’s box of emotions. Covid pushed the owners to put it back on the market sooner and ultimately forgo rentals.

I feel like I should be sadder than I am. Instead, all I felt was calm and gratitude as I drove by the old place on our second day here. There’s so many lovely memories tucked along those shores. It’s where Isabella took her first steps, where I addressed our wedding invitations and where Michael endlessly strolled low tide with a net, catching tiny fish and hermit crabs for the girls when they were babies.

Feeling sad about our time there ending is easy. Feeling grateful for it takes more work but is also more rewarding.

The way Cape Cod weaves itself into my life is different now. I know my summers out here are far from over. Cape Cod and I are just in a new phase of our relationship. Soon we’ll be empty nesters together with Isabella leaving for college next summer and Virginia five years later. I imagine we’ll have a good span of kid-free years, rediscovering old habits and making new ones until grandchildren’s footprints sprinkle the shoreline.

My life there began as a 21-year old girl cycling the sand dunes of Provincetown with Michael, and will end watching sunsets with Matthew. How fortunate to have them both in one lifetime. I’m almost afraid to write that last sentence for fear of tempting fate.

Wanting to live, truly for myself and not just for my children, has been very hard since Michael died. And then somehow it seemed a real possibility. Somewhere along the way dreaming big morphed into living again.

Death still terrifies me, I just no longer feel the need to try and outrun it. Death doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, as Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote. Birth and death are how all our stories begin and end. The substance lies in the moments we live between those two events.

chai white chocolate scones

makes 6

You can use store-bought chai if you’re not up for making your own, but if you are, you can find my chai recipe here.

1 cup (140 grams) all purpose flour, plus more sprinkling

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder

Pinch of  fine sea salt (omit if using salted butter)

3 tablespoons (42 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

1 large egg 

4 tablespoons (60 ml) chai

2 ounces (56 grams) white chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture, and rub together quickly with your fingers, until it forms a sandy-looking texture with some pebble-sized pieces.

Add the egg, 3 tablespoons of the chai and all of the white chocolate to the bowl then stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a scraggly  looking dough.

Knead the dough in the bowl once or twice just until it comes together.

Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Using your fingertips, press the dough out into a ½-inch thick circle. Cut the dough into 6 triangles.

Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet, and brush tops with the remaining tablespoon of chai. 

Bake until bottoms are deep golden and the tops are lightly golden,  12 to 15 minutes. Transfer tray to a wire rack, and let cool a few minutes before serving.

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