Kim used to love to make pies.
But every once in a while she’d get in the mood.
One of her favorites was cranberry-apple. Around this time of year she’d go in the kitchen to make one. Sometimes I’d make the crust for her – she found that challenging.
The hardest part of making a good flaky crust is not putting too much water in it. We’ve tried all sorts of tricks over the years.This year I made a crust I heard about on Milk Street Radio. You microwave the water with cornstarch til it forms a solid gel. Then you pulse the cooled gel into the flour in a food processor.
After that it’s the usual. Add the fat, chill the dough, then roll it out. This dough feels different when you roll it out. It’s more pliable.
I put it in the baking dish and evened it out and trimmed the edges.
Then I filled the crust with apples and cranberries and spread a sugar cinnamon mix on top. I dotted the top with butter and put it in a 400 oven for an hour.
It looked great.
Maggie got back from work just after the pie came out of the oven.
I took a shower.
We had to leave soon.
We were going to drive separately but we were going to leave together. She would follow me.
I packed the pie and some other items and took them out to my car along with Kim’s ashes. I put the food on the floor in the back seat of the car and put Kim in the passenger seat beside me. I thought a moment and moved her to the floor in front of the passenger seat.
Maggie came out behind me and locked up.
We headed to the cemetery. I didn’t see Maggie’s text til later.
“Do u have mum” she texted.
That’s so Maggie. At twenty she’s driving to the cemetery to bury her mother and wants to make sure I’ve brought Kim with me.
We got to the cemetery at 230 – right on time. I’d considered waiting a while – Kim would have been late.
A group of family and friends waited while I talked to the guy from Lake View who was helping us with the burial. He was amazingly good about everything. Respectful of the family. Supportive. Gentle.
I led the group to the grave site. Right next to Elena.
Kim’s ashes are enclosed in a marble urn.
They had set the urn on a small stand.
I’d checked with Father Gary and he gave me a prayer to read but had said there wasn’t really a graveside service.
I invited people to speak. I waited. None of us were in a hurry.
A few people spoke.
The rest of us nodded.
I thanked everyone for being there and for helping me through the three months – it’s been three months – since Kim died. I didn’t really know what to say except that “Kim has left a big freaking hole.”
I read the prayer.
I told everyone that we would now be actually burying her ashes. If you don’t want to see that you can leave. No rush. You can stay as long as you want before we do that.
I nodded at the man from Lake View.
He called over his crew and they passed her ashes among them as they lifted the stand the ashes had been on and pulled back a covering that was over the hold. They treated her remains with respect and kindness – it meant a lot.
One member of his crew knelt in front of the hole and they passed him the urn. He gently lowered it.
It was surprising what a small hole it actually was.
The contact from Lake View came over and asked me quietly if we wanted to leave or if we wanted to be there while they back filled the grave.
I told him we’d stay.
He walked half-way back to the grave and then came back and quietly asked if any of us would like to shovel dirt in as well.
I thanked him and said yes that some of us would.
I let those gathered know what had been offered and went over and accepted the shovel.
I took a shovel full of dirt and gently sprinkled it on the urn.
Kim’s brother followed me and used his hands to place more dirt.
When we had finished I nodded at the man from Lake View. His crew then shoveled the rest of the dirt and added the square of grass they had cut back on top.
I stood a moment longer.
I looked at half of my family dead in the ground.
Kim and Elena.
A big freaking hole.