it’s gone

it's gone | the merry gourmet

I walked out of the parking garage at work and headed toward the cancer hospital. It was a Saturday morning of the long weekend, and team rounds were scheduled to begin in about fifteen minutes. The parking garage is not my usual one. This one is closer to the hospital, and on weekends, I won’t get a ticket for parking there. When I’m on service in the hospital – two weeks straight as the attending of the oncology inpatient unit and the oncology consult service, 24 hour-per-day call – this small thing feels like a luxury. A few less steps to take to get in to the hospital, a few less steps to take when I’m headed home to my family.

Nestled between my weekend parking garage and the hospital is the nursing home where my dad lived for the last year of his life. I hate that place. When I think back on the trauma I experienced with the loss of my father to dementia, the nursing home plays a starring role in my memories.

I park in that parking garage less than two dozen times per year, only when I’m on service. Usually, on my way to the hospital or back to my car, I find myself holding my breath as I walk by the nursing home. Sometimes I cut through the parking lot, taking care not to trip on the tree roots that have buckled the asphalt. Other times, I give the place a wide berth. Even without stepping foot inside, I can remember the smell of it. If I allow my mind to wander, I can feel the black memories beginning to return, squeezing the breath out of my chest. So I hold my breath, quicken my pace, and think about my team and the patients waiting on me. Go, I tell myself. Walk faster.

This Saturday was different. As I neared the path that cuts through the nursing home parking lot, I realized something was different. A chain-link construction fence blocked the way. I walked several steps more, then stopped. It’s gone, I thought. I turned back and walked back to an opening in the fence to get a closer look. It’s finally gone.

The nursing home had been bulldozed. My ever-expanding hospital bought the property several months ago, and though I’d hoped that one day this would happen, the nursing home remained. Until now. In the bare construction site, near a construction dumpster, only a single large oak tree remained. That oak tree had provided shade over the depressing back patio of the nursing home, where a handful of wheelchair-bound patients sat outside and smoked.

I took a deep breath and felt a wave of relief wash over me. I raised my phone and took a photo. I needed the evidence. I looked down at the photo of the empty lot, smiled to myself, and walked the rest of the way to the cancer hospital.

I’ve looked at that photo several times since then, and I find it reassuring and comforting each time. That awful place has been torn down, and it feels wonderful to have the ugly reminder of a year’s worth of pain and some of the worst memories of my life gone, completely erased.

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27 Responses to “my gratitude, and a recipe for key lime cheesecake”

  1. Paula — March 22, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

    Hugs and prayers continue for your entire family. Beautiful cheesecake. Enjoy that upcoming and much needed vacation.

  2. Michele — March 22, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    You guys take care of yourselves. I’ll be thinking of you and your family. And that cheesecake!

  3. DessertForTwo — March 22, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

    We’re here for you anytime, MJ!

    Your Mom’s blog post hit me in the gut. I’m thinking of her & praying her lots. I hope she has easy days ahead and can heal.

    PS Is your maiden name George? Mine too!

  4. All that Gisters — March 22, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

    I really hope things get better for you, your Mum and Dad, I really hope you enjoy your holiday tpp because I think you deserve it. I absolutely love key lime cheesecake and I haven’t had it it so long, it brings back good memories from when I was tiny.
    from Emily xxx

  5. Gail — March 22, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    I haven’t even read your mother’s blog yet, and I’m a weepy mess.

    Sending you big hugs. You know we’re all here for you.

    xo

  6. MJ such a sad, beautiful, hopeful, and articulate post. You are amazing. Sending love and hugs to you all, especially your mum and dad XO As Gail says, we’re all here if you need us.

  7. Kathryn — March 22, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    Thinking of you all, have a wonderful vacation xxx

  8. Cookin Canuck — March 22, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

    You have popped into my mind multiple times since I read the post about your dad’s transition to the nursing home. You are in all of our thoughts.

    Key lime in any form has always been a favorite of mine, and this cheesecake looks like a “must try”.

  9. Michelle Ledesma — March 22, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    Continuing to keep you, your folks, and family in my thoughts and prayers. May seem odd, but I feel the need to thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories. It’s comforting to connect with someone who clearly loves her dad and mom, but is moving through a difficult period in life’s transitions. I relate. Many can, I’m sure. Know you, too, are not alone. We’re all out here walking along side, holding you up in our hearts.
    Do get some r & r on your vacation.
    Oh, and that cheesecake looks divine.
    Hugs, Mac

  10. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com — March 23, 2013 @ 1:39 am

    Your mom’s post definitely resonated with a lot of tough decisions we had to do in our lives as well. Our thoughts and prayers goes out to her, your dad and the whole family during this trying times. xoxo

    That’s a beautiful cheesecake.

  11. cherie — March 23, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    I’m fairly new to your blog and did not read about the initial surgery until today – what a shock all this must have been for you and your mother.

    Prayers continue for you all – hugs too – I agree you both need time to recover from stress before moving forward with other decisions. I wish there were a way to make this easier – it sounds like you’re all doing the very best you can.

  12. jill lucas — March 24, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

    There will be so many good memories mingled with these difficult ones. Try to remember the times he offered his steady hand talked about your babies with knowledge and pride. I learned after my dad’s death that, the day before his heart attack, he was pressing a new snapshot of his toddler grandson – our son, now 22 – into the hands of friends at the post office. I took a lot of comfort in that and choose to remember it over details that have become less vivid with time.

  13. Natasha — March 24, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    Time like these are never easy. I will certainly keep you and your family in my thoughts. And I’m sure cheesecake helps, as I know baking for me certainly does. All the best.

  14. Cheryl Arkison — March 25, 2013 @ 10:38 am

    I love that layer of curd!
    And I’m thrilled that things feel calmer, better.

  15. Nutmeg Nanny — March 25, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

    This is such a difficult and heartbreaking time, sending positive thoughts your way. There is nothing like a nice treat to ease things though, this cheesecake looks delicious 🙂

  16. you and your family is in my prayers Merry. I have realized how great it is to be surrounded by blogger community during tough times like this and I am glad baking is your comfort. Take Care.

  17. SMITH BITES — March 28, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    sending much love and prayers your way MJ and i’m grateful for this community who surrounds you with love, am grateful you have this space to share your deepest secrets and fears, am grateful to call you friend (((hugs)))

  18. Donna at NothingChocolate — April 1, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

    Oh my goodness!!! Your images are spectacular! My eyes “taste” the creamy tart-ness of this cake! So wonderful!
    And where did you find that nice, moderately high cake stand?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 8th, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

      The cake stand came from Crate & Barrel a few years ago. I love it and keep meaning to buy another!

  19. Kammie @ Sensual Appeal — April 3, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

    Wow , I love that there’s even lime curd in there! Amazing recipe! Pinned.

  20. Lucy Henderly — April 8, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

    I made this on saturday night for some friends birthday get together on Sunday night!!!! it was a hit! maybe one of the best cheesecakes i’ve ever had!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — April 8th, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, Lucy. I’m so glad that everyone loved it!

  21. Lauren @ Dallas Duo Bakes — April 10, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

    Prayers for you and your family! As for your key lime cheesecake…it looks divine. I am a huge key lime fan, and know I will like this recipe.

  22. Aggie — April 11, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    Ok, I’m officially in tears. I love key lime everything. I want a slice of this cheesecake. Love you friend. xoxo

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