Monday, March 28, 2011

The Particular Happiness of Nik's Lemon Cake

(I admit it, I'm blatantly borrowing the title of this post from that of Aimee Bender's novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, about a girl who bites into her mother's lemon chocolate cake and discovers she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. I also admit that I haven't read the book, but the play on the title seems apropos for the post.  Hope you think so too.)

My friend Niksmom emailed last night, wondering if I might be available today to accompany her and her boy - her sweet, sweet darling boy - to the children's hospital this morning.  There would be a test, one requiring sedation, one leading to (hopefully) some answers. 

When it comes to caring for our cubs, we Mama Bears are good at so many things ... with the exception of, sometimes, asking for what we need. And in this case, what was needed was moral support, live and in person. 

"I'm there," I replied via Facebook. 

The morning brought a phone call from Niksmom, asking if I could stop by Starbucks (oh, all right, go ahead and twist my arm, how didya know I wanted a cinnamon dolce latte for the ride, girlfriend?) and get her boy a slice of lemon cake as a post-op treat. 

A hour later, with traffic conquered and two pieces of lemon cake hidden in my purse, I arrived at the brand new sparkling MRI Center in the children's hospital, the lyrics from The Jungle Book greeting me in the waiting room. ("Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife, I mean the bare necessities, that's why a bear can rest at ease, with just the bare necessities of life.")

As we waited - and waited, and waited some more - I got to see Nik in action.  You see, being nonverbal, Nik uses a "talker," a specialized computerized iPad-like device (pictured at the top of this post).  Indeed, this is more than a computer; it's how Nik engages with his world through a few keystrokes, mastering new ones every day, making himself heard loud and clear.  It has become a necessity of his, essential to his life, and transforming his world.

I watched in wonder, taking in his little fingers flying over the screen, and my friend being the incredible mother she is to a boy with multiple challenges.  Later, in recovery, we watched the monitors and watched him sleep under sedation.

And then, awake and rehydrated and officially  discharged, it was time for lemon cake, which I produced with great flourish and which was met with great joy and a flurry of words. 
Cake profferred and accepted.

(You got that right, kiddo.  I could live on that Starbucks Lemon Cake myself.)


Such absolute delight and joy you never did see.  It was such a simple thing, this asking-via-talker for cake, my giving it to him, and the sheer politeness and gratitude. 

We walked down to the lobby like this, Nik being wheeled in a wagon typing, the talker talking, me doling out pieces of lemon cake.  It was only then that I became slightly aware of the stares - we're in a children's hospital, this can't be all that strange, and you know, the hell with you all if it is - and then, the recognition and grins of the passersby in the lobby as they began to recognize what was going on.  I noticed the corporate-exec looking dude glancing down, his eyes wide with amazement as he watched Nik press an icon that announced "CAKE!" and then "THANK YOU," my eyes meeting his with a triumphant grin at this little boy, communicating through the most modern of technologies, being able to ask for cake just like every other little boy. 

We should all be able to experience that kind of happiness, even once in our lives, I thought.  

And with whatever the darkness of this night holds, and with whatever answers and results might lie in store tomorrow from the tests today, we have this slice of this day to savor: a little bit of joy, a little bit of laughter, a little bit of happiness from a little piece of lemon cake.

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature's recipes
With just the bare necessities of life.


copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Kim said...

Yay!! I'm so glad you could be there for her and nik! Beth is an amazing mother in action, it brought tears to my eyes to see her and her husband with him when I met her-the live in their house! Great family.

Elizabeth said...

This is when we are profoundly grateful for what technology has wrought --

Niksmom said...

Oh, Melissa! This is beautiful. You made me cry. I can't thank you enough for the company, the hand-holding, the sanity. But, most especially, thank you for seeing my little boy for the joyful child he is and for making him smile all the way from his toes with each bite of cake. I would do anything for that smile. xo

Kelly said...

It amazes me how much love I feel for that boy and his mama when we've never even met! I'm sooooo glad you were able to be there for the moral support and the joy of sharing cake!

jeanne (carls daughter) said...

Brought tears to my eyes!

TC said...


Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Crying here too...if only we could be reminded more often to look for the simple joys in life :)

Alison said...

What a wonderful story. I really love the description of a different and effective way of communicating. And I hope the corporate exec and others got a little jolt, and an opportunity to rethink their own assumptions.

Bookfool said...

Oh, good. I'm so glad I'm not the only person who got all teary over this post.

Melissa said...

Oh crud. Now I'm crying. Happy tears, of course. :-D