Compassion Cake, A Sad & Sweet Recipe

Normally a woman with a ferocious sweet tooth, my lack of  interest in the extra cake I made today surprised me. It was a new recipe and I made two to be sure it was a good one.

If you read my post yesterday, then you know our neighbor’s husband died suddenly at home on Sunday. I deliberated a great deal about how I might offer support based on the different customs here in England versus my home in the American South and slipped a card through the door on Monday following the guidance of some close to me locally. Still … I felt as if I needed to do more.

After writing about my feelings yesterday, I received many helpful comments most of which seem to suggest that it would be okay for me to follow my heart rather than the generally accepted behavior here. Thank you for that. I appreciated all who took time to comment or to email me privately. It was just what I needed to make me dust off my cake pans and look for the right recipe.

Watching the cakes baking today made me sad and no amount of sugar could change it for me. The extra cake John and I sampled tasted fine, but I wondered aloud to him if he thought it was too dry. He said that it was as light and fluffy as it looked and that it was certainly not dry. After another bite, I decided that it must be the sadness I was feeling that made seem as if it was sticking in my throat.

As soon as the other cake cooled enough to wrap it, I walked next door and knocked softly. I introduced myself to a relative and after explaining briefly who I was, gave her the cake and said that I made it to say we cared and so our neighbor might know we thinking of her.

20 thoughts on “Compassion Cake, A Sad & Sweet Recipe

  1. I believe that cake is borne out of love, and the feelings that you have at the time of baking go into what you bake. In your cake there was the sadness but also the love from one fellow human being to another at a time of great sorrow.
    The gift will be received in the spirit that it was created and given.

  2. Lovely gesture, Elizabeth. Having just lost the dear mother of a longtime friend, I am doing a lot of grieving myself lately. And I found your posts especially interesting. The English are more reserved (my family is Scottish) and I can understand your dilemma. The cake is lovely — and the perfect gesture. I look forward to hearing how they liked it.

  3. Elizabeth, I have so much catching up to do – thanks for your lovely words on my old/new blog! And so sorry to hear about your neighbor, I cannot imagine how his wife would not appreciate such a kind and thoughtful gesture. You are a wonderful neighbor and friend. Kxo

  4. I meant to comment yesterday and say the same thing. As a southerner I know how important it is (practically in our DNA) to start cooking when an event happens — particularly a death in the family.

    A couple of weeks before Christmas my cousin passed away and I raced up to Fort Worth to be with my Aunt. As we were at the house, I realized how critical it was to bring food — my Aunt and my other cousins were incapable of making decisions but people were hungry.

    When the food arrived, it was so fantastic — my Aunt and cousins and the other family members didn’t have to make food decisions and those who were dropping by were fed.

    I have a lot of friends from other countries and when they preface a tradition of any sort with “In my country, it’s a tradition when we do this,” I just love it — be it a birthday celebration or a thoughtful gesture in grief.

    I’m certain your neighbor will always remember the kindness you showed to her in what must be a horribly sad time for her.

  5. In reply to Mariellen, in particular.
    I don’t feel ganged up on. I was really pointing out the differences between here and the USA (in general) in the way that we handle bereavement. I probably chose a bad description when I told Elizabeth that giving food might be viewed as ‘odd’, I really meant that usually a card was all that would be expected.
    I accept that behaviour here towards death is probably reserved, but I would hate to think that readers of Elizabeth’s blog are left with the impression that people in this village are neither supportive nor compassionate – nothing could be farther from the truth.
    I think it is fair to add that one’s interactions with friends and neighbours are also governed by experience and perception. Some people are inherently more private than others.
    I am sure however that the cake was appreciated.

  6. John – this one’s for you,

    I’m so glad that mine is the comment after yours 🙂 As a fellow ‘English person’ your comments were spot on (old bean!) I know exactly what you meant & it made me smile, we are a reserved lot indeed & having met your ‘village people’ I can absolutely testify they are a right friendly bunch 🙂 🙂

    I can also see Elizabeth’s point, having lived in the US for three years & given birth to my lovely Harriet there, we returned from hospital to find (literally) cases of cupcakes, lasagnas, pizza, side dishes, pot roast, a chocolate cake……you name it! I SO appreciated that I cannot begin to put it into words (especially as we already had a 3 & 1 year old in the house 🙂

    I always bake for people now, my very dear friend lost her father two weeks ago & I took round a lasagna, garlic bread & a bottle of red……the LAST thing she needed that day was to even think about what she was going to have to cook for the starving hoards when they got in. My friend was SO appreciative, always go with what your heart tells you, that’s what I say.

    BIG love to you both xXxXx

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