Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dagoba Organic Chocolate and Gluten-Free Grief Therapy

Gluten-Free Grief Therapy

Why isn't being old reason enough to make it easier to say goodbye? How about having had a full life? What about being ready to go?

My grandmother just passed away.  Well, it has been a couple of weeks already, but it feels like "just".

She was old. By her own standards, not mine. Ninety-two and a half. She had done it all. She was ready.

And yet, selfishly, I didn't want to let her go. No, that's not quite it. I didn't want to keep her here, but I wasn't ready to be without her.

She was done here. I'm glad she was headed peacefully on her way. No drama. No drawn out, extended debate. She knew what she wanted.


Always, it had to be just so. That's what made her so great.

Everything in her purse had its place, and she had everything in her purse. Everything in its place. She also dated every can and jar of food brought home from the store.

And after she passed away, when we were clearing out her things, I found a box of tissues with a date label on it. A label she had made and put on it.

And we all laughed.


Do tissues ever expire???

Never mind. I guess she wanted to know when they were purchased.

This attention to detail is what made her so great at so many things.

This also was the case when she made her Christmas cookies. Precisely painted, precisely decorated, precisely loved, precisely adored, precisely delicious.

There are so many things I want to write about my wonderful grandmother, but I can't. It's too close. Too personal. It's too hard to share all of that with anyone who didn't know her. I want to keep those memories to myself and my family and those that knew her. Selfish, I know.

I made a long list of some of the things I thought I wanted to share. But as I looked that list over several times, I realized I didn't want to type those things up. I didn't want to post a picture of my wedding cake that she decorated, as beautiful as it was. I didn't want to share the stories, memories, thoughts. Selfish, selfish, selfish.

But, I've decided, this is my therapy. And if it is going to be my grief therapy, I have to do this my way.

So, I'm going to share the thoughts of my grandmother that I've already been comfortable sharing.

I've always consulted Grandma when baking or cooking or doing anything much in the kitchen. She was the expert. She was the one I consulted. I was thrilled when I was the lucky recipient of her treasure. Her recipe box. The decades-old reference for all of the goodness that came out of Grandma's kitchen. I now had it all.

It was at least a decade and a half (or more) before getting her recipe box that I asked for copies of her cookie recipes.  Lebkuchen was a family tradition of her own making. Now, I think I am the only one of the family still making it. Other family members have asked for the French cookie dough recipe, and recipes for her chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. I'm glad these will continue to be made, but the Lebkuchen will always be special.

After having to go gluten-free, I needed to relearn many lessons I had originally learned from Grandma. My mother claimed that Grandma's pies were the best in the family. So, when I set out on a mission to learn to make great gluten-free pies, I consulted Grandma. She didn't know gluten-free, but she knew how and why each step of pie making was done just so. And she let me know when what I was doing seemed odd or silly. She sure straightened me out on making lemon meringue pie!

Of all the people I have talked to about being gluten-free, I might have expected Grandma to have the hardest time understanding it or relating to me about it. But she took it all in stride. She gave me all the advice I asked for, when I asked for it, and cautioned me when she didn't know how things would behave when gluten-free. She even went out of her way to make sure she had a gluten-free cookie option available for me when I visited her at Christmas time. She purchased a  gluten-free cookie mix, just so I too could have cookies!

Grandma was the best. The best at so many things and I admired her in so many ways.

But I'm still sad.

I still have to remind myself that I can't just call her up for the next piece of baking advice. And it hurts to know that I didn't get around to getting all the stories associated with all of the recipes in her recipe box.

That one hurts. Didn't. Get. Around. To. It.

It's no consolation to know that there are hundreds of recipes in that box.

But. This. Is. Therapy.

My grief therapy, I believe, should include something that makes me feel better.

Good chocolate makes me feel better. Enter Dagoba.

Dagoba Organic Chocolate

I was first introduced to Dagoba chocolate several years ago. It is very good. I will admit it is not my absolute favorite, but it is very good.

Very, very good.

And it just so happened to be destined to be part of my grief therapy.

After arriving home from my travels, I found a gift bag on my desk. A gift bag from a very kind friend and neighbor. A gift bag filled with gluten-free goodies.

See? Destiny. Chocolate as part of grief therapy. This might catch on.

I was given four varieties of Dagoba Organic Chocolate.

milk - 37% cacao
lavender blueberry - 59% cacao
xocolatl - 74% cacao
new moon - 74% cacao

I ate this one first.

This chocolate is smooth and firm and not too sweet. Nice. Very nice. Very soothing.

And it is all labeled gluten-free. I'm so well trained to scrutinize ingredient lists that I missed the gluten-free labeling at first. But there it is.

The lavender blueberry was a different experience. I bit into a blueberry, which was nice, but only smelled the lavender. I didn't seem to taste the lavender as much as smell it. But then, smell determines most of what we taste, anyways.

I don't think anyone can really go wrong with Dagoba. It makes for mighty fine therapy.

And I feel better.

Surprisingly, this picture also makes me feel better.

I like this picture. I like it a lot.

Those are five fresh orchid leis laid out on top of my grandmother's casket. She loved Hawaii.

Those leis were beautiful. And for whatever reason, this picture soothes me. I don't know why, but it does. It is nice to look at.

Odd, I know. I have never before wanted to look at a picture of a casket. Normally, I would cringe from such things. But something about this picture is just right.

And in spite of that...

I am sad. I am crying.


I will feel better. I will continue to like this picture. I will be okay.

I think I will have another piece of Dagoba chocolate now. This is therapy, after all.

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