Echo of Heartbreak, A Recipe for Life" is a short story written in the form of a letter from a very ill mother to her unborn daughter, telling her the incidents surrounding her birth, giving her advice on life, and leaving her the best of her family recipes.
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Good News and Bad News
“Well, Melina, the sonogram looks good. Are you feeling okay?”
“Yes. Mornings are still a little rough, but I’m fine after ten o’clock. So, the baby’s okay?”
“Yes, she is. You, on the other hand…”
“Dr. Townsend, please, I appreciate your concern for me, I do, but I’m going to do this my way. As long as my sweet little baby girl is okay, that’s all that matters.”
“And who’s going to take care of your sweet little baby girl when you’re gone, Melina? Let’s abort this pregnancy now, before it’s too late. If you insist on carrying this child to full term, it will kill you.”
“You’re over-reacting to my cardiologist’s report. Dr. Lambert is an alarmist.”
“No, I’m not over-reacting. Pregnancy is very stressful on the heart.”
“Not as stressful as parenting, I’ve been told.”
“Let him fix this heart problem, get yourself healthy again, and you and Ethan can start all over again.”
“No. I want this baby.”
“This baby will kill you. You know, Melina, your husband, ‘the Professor’ can hardly take care of himself, let alone himself and a baby.”
“Oh, Doctor, he’s just a little pre-occupied and sometimes absent-minded. But Ethan’s not incapable. And he’s very loving.”
“Think about it, just think about it. You don’t have to make a decision today. We have time yet. I’m extremely worried about your condition, that’s all. There is every indication in this cardiology report that the stress from this pregnancy could be fatal.”
“Could be, not will be. And if the cardiology business ever dries up, Dr. Lambert could write bestsellers. He likes to scare people with heart problems.
“No. This is serious. Think about it, talk it over with Ethan, and call me in a day or two and we’ll schedule the procedure, okay?”
Melina nodded, but not in agreement, just simply to get out of there.
She got in the car and drove toward home. Think? That’s all she’d been doing is thinking. Talk to Ethan? Yuck, no! Ethan wouldn’t understand. Ethan could care less if they ever had a child. And, although he would never admit it to her, he’d much prefer a son to a daughter anytime to carry on the Rosemont all male tradition. She sometimes wondered how dear sweet Mother Maeve Rosemont lived with all that male testosterone. Ethan would side with Dr. Townsend. The last discussion with Ethan over the baby ended with “Do whatever you want.”
She pulled over and tapped a number on her cell phone.
“Hey, Glo, I need to talk. Can you give me a call when you have a sec? Just came out of Dr. Townsend’s office. And I’m feeling all bummed out. Love you. Bye.”
She pulled back onto the highway and drove to the local office supply store. She walked up and down the aisles. She stopped to look at journals. She picked up a big, beautiful, brown embossed leather-bound journal with gold-leaf edging. She ran her fingers over the embossed scrolls and flowers. It was a beautiful book.
Melina was a smart woman. She had much to share with her daughter, what to do, what not to do, pitfalls, plans for success, and recipes for disaster. Things she wished someone had told her when she was young. Personal things. Romantic things. Cultural things. The culture of a country is handed down from mother to daughter when it comes to the traditions and customs of a family. She wanted her daughter to have all the advantages of her vast experiences.
“Ethan? Ethan? I’m home. Are you home? Honey, where are you?” she called as she walked in the door.
She looked all over for him. “Ethan?” No Ethan. She pulled out the journal, sat down at her desk, and began to write.
A Letter to My Unborn Daughter
I’m your mama. My name is Melina Valentina Rossetti Rosemont. I’m thirty-three years old. I’m a geneticist at the Harborton University Hospital. I work in the Lab. I am of Italian descent and married an Englishman, the brilliant and handsome Dr. Ethan John Rosemont, who is a thirty-one-year-old English Literature professor at Harborton University. We say the alphabet threw us together, because Harborton University insisted on us sitting alphabetically at all university meetings. I hope you inherit his thick, gorgeous, blonde wavy hair and tallness and my brown eyes and sense of humor.
And I have a very serious heart condition. They say it needs attention yesterday. Others in my family have had the same condition and lived full, productive, long lives without submitting to the knife. But there is a very real possibility, honey, that while you’re on your way into the world, I may be on my way out. But this is my choice. Today all we talk about is choice, but usually the choice is to choose not to carry to full term. That is not the choice I am making. I choose to do this. I choose you.
Now, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way to this point in my life, and although I completely give you permission to make your own mistakes, you might want to avoid some of the same ones I made and make a few new and interesting ones of your own!
So, consider this a recipe book. Yes, I’m going to include some of our favorite family recipes. But it’s also a recipe for living a full and happy life.
1. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. It matters what you think of you. Wow! If I had only figured this one out earlier. I spent all of my high school and half of my college years trying to fit into a mold that – just didn’t fit me.
2. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, even Ethan Rosemont, your father, unless of course, it’s a safety issue, like running with pointy scissors. Then you should listen to him.
3 .Love comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Don’t overlook potential best friends or lovers because they are different. Your father’s grandma didn’t like Italians. She missed out on knowing and loving a lot of wonderful people with such closed vision. And a whole lot of great dinner invitations and Christmas eves with the thirteen kinds of fishes, and...
Melina’s cell phone rang. She put down the journal.
“Mel, what did the doctor say?” It was her best friend, Gloria Velasquez.
“He said… Glo, can you come over? Ethan’s not home and I need to talk to you.”
“Oh, Jesus! You are scaring the crap out of me. I’ll be there in five minutes.” Click.
4. Men are strange, bizarre creatures. Don’t look for perfection. You will be constantly disappointed. There are no perfect ones, believe me, they all have kinks. Some kinks you see right away, and some you don’t. Pick one who has kinks you can live with. And pick only one man at a time.
5. Don’t make promises lightly. Once you have given your word, keep it. It’s a pact, not only with the other person, but with yourself as well.
In a large stockpot, boil a whole chicken in 8 cups of water. Remove chicken, let cool, debone and dice chicken. Return to the stockpot. Cook small pasta for soup according to directions. In a frying pan, sauté 1 T. olive oil, 1 medium diced onion, 3 stalks diced celery, 1 clove garlic (Leave whole, easier to find and remove before serving.) Add to stockpot. Add ½ c. fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley, a pinch of salt and pepper, add pasta and simmer together for 20 minutes.
6. Like yourself. Make peace with what you think are your flaws. If you are my daughter, you will probably inherit my wild curly hair, big boobs, ample thighs, and my giggle. Embrace them. Learn to accept them as part of who you are.
7. Stand on your own two feet. You have all the inherent building blocks of an independent woman. You should have met my tough old great grandmother.
Gloria was there in less than five minutes
“Okay, what the doctor say?” said Gloria as she rushed through the front door.
“Coffee?” asked Melina, already pouring. “I made some pizzelles.”
“You made pizzelles? Oh, this has to be bad news. You know I need something sweet to go with my coffee in order to process bad news.”