As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.
– Stranger than Fiction (2006)
Life isn’t perfect. And for a good reason. It’s only when you have the bad days that you appreciate the good. If not, what’s the difference? And like a block of really good dark chocolate, it’s the bitter bits that bring out the intensity and flavour of the cocoa.
The Hubs was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma early this year. To put it simply, we found a tumor about the size of a marble in his brain, along the 8th cranial nerve. That’s the bad news. The good news is that these tumors are usually benign and grow slowly.
To find a 1.8 cm spot on your brain MRI sucks. But sitting outside a neurosurgeon’s office puts a lot of things into perspective. When you see little children bravely heading in for radiation, or sit next to someone who has half his brain cut out, you realize how petty and trivial a lot of things are. And more importantly, you learn to appreciate the little things in life. You start to look for the bright yellow golden hues that color your life.
And that’s when you start to find Bavarian sugar cookies. Because of the size and nature of the tumor, the ENT surgeons, neurosurgeons and radiation experts we spoke to all recommended treatment. But none of them could agree on the type of treatment because of the risks involved. Since the tumor wasn’t causing too much of a disruption, we decided to adopt a wait and see approach. Meanwhile, The Hubs and I are trying to starve the tumor by cutting sugar, wheat, meat and upping his intake of anti-inflammatory and ‘superfoods’. We figured that even if it doesn’t help fight the tumor, it would build up his immune system should we decide on treatment later. Nobody, including the doctors in the family, questioned what seemed like madness – feeding The Hubs broccoli instead of sending him in for brain surgery or radiation. Instead, our families rallied behind us and our decision. Friends kept us in their prayers and thoughts, and cheered us on. And through it all, God’s grace gave us a deep sense of peace. We found our cookie jar full of Bavarian sugar cookies.
The past 8 months has taught me a lot. I learnt new things about healthy living, clean eating and in the process, strengthened my own immune system. I learnt that even when the going gets tough, The Hubs and I make a great team. And that a good dose of humor goes a long way in lighting up even the darkest of moments. I discovered the quiet strength in the man I married.
The Hubs and I have continued to savour life – we travel, play and laugh as hard as we can. Because I’ve learnt that all these things – the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties – they come together and make up the gooey deliciousness that is life. And with God’s grace, we can trust that on bad days, there will always be Bavarian sugar cookies.
I know these aren’t Bavarian sugar cookies because there isn’t really a recipe for them. But these are the MOST awesome flourless chocolate muffins. And I’ll take my days one chocolate muffin at a time.
P/S: For those of you who are wondering, we’re fine 🙂 The Hubs had his second MRI this week, and the tumor looks stable. We’ll continue to monitor.
You will need:
- 150g dark chocolate, chopped
- 125g butter, softened, plus extra to grease
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/3 cup (90g) caster sugar [I left out this bit of sugar because the muffins are already plenty sweet]
- 100g almond meal
- 2 tbs caster sugar, extra
- Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease 10 x 1/2 cup (125ml) muffin pans with the extra butter. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave on 50%/medium power for 1 minute or until smooth.
- Add egg yolks, sugar and almond meal. Mix well.
- Use an electric beater or balloon whisk to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle over the extra sugar. Beat until firm peaks form.
- Fold into the chocolate mixture until just combined. Spoon into the muffin pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Set aside to cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.