Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Hearts Lemon Torte Cake!

Cheesecake Factory's Lemoncello Cream Torte

"Through the heart's wound, I see it's secret"
(Bernard of Clairvaux)

As my family celebrates the birthday of my older brother, we are rejoicing in many ways! Lemon Torte has always been his favorite cake and "the" cake he requests for his birthday every year. This luscious cake tastes better as each year passes, because...

Five years ago, my brother’s heart was attacked…stopped! He had what is commonly called “the widow maker”.

He collapsed in his family room. My sister-in-law called 911 and fortunately, the paramedics were there in a couple of minutes. After five shocks, they managed to re-start his heart, then rushed him to the hospital where the doctor was standing by to receive him and place a stent into his major artery. His life had been saved but…he was in a coma. The team of doctors who were attending said they could not tell us if he would wake up, and if he did he could potentially have brain damage.

After three days of waiting, wondering and fervent prayer, not only did he awaken, but he immediately recognized each of our faces and was talking! I can’t explain the feeling of joy which flooded that ICU room! At first we discovered that he did have some short term memory loss, but soon he was 100% back!

He surprised us on that third day when his eyes popped open! We joke and say he rose from the dead! He’s a miracle! In fact the doctor called him “miracle man” and said, “if he had ever any inclination to play the lottery, he should probably do so”!

I’m amazed at God’s grace which blanketed all of us during that time because as this was all going on, my mother had also been admitted to the hospital…just one floor up! She had been failing for some time (complications from heart disease) and her body was giving out. During their stay, we would take turns visiting the two of them and wore a path from my brother's ICU room to my mother's room upstairs.

Just after my brother’s release from the hospital, my mom’s doctor said there was no more they could do for her and hospice was recommended. Four days later, on Christmas Eve, she passed away. My sister-in-law, my brother and I stood by her side those last days; the three of us, holding onto each other for support. We were able to tell her everything we desired; thanking her for being the best mom in the world and for creating memories for us that will live forever, making our lives beautiful and happy.

We were able to stand together and say goodbye to our
precious mother. Our hearts bonded even more so in this time of grief as the one who gave us life now took her last breath.

It was bittersweet in several ways. Christmas would forever be a different experience for us all; both of our parents were now gone (end of an era); Bruce was still in recovery mode, but thank God that he had his memory! We do have the sweet assurance that we will all be together again on glory’s side! Sweet also that my brother’s life had been spared…his heart had been saved! Yet he said he felt like a piece of it was missing as a piece of my own heart was! Yes, bittersweet!

I was overcome with emotion when I thought that I had almost lost my brother along with my mom. I don’t think I could have stood to bear it. My gratitude still overwhelms me.

When March rolled around, my family gathered to celebrate Bruce's life! This special birthday was a wonderful celebration for all of us with more meaning than words can describe, but captured each time we look into each others eyes!

Today is Bruce's birthday again...and we celebrate once more!

How happy I am to celebrate you today, brother! I celebrate your resilience, faith, strength, your devotion to family, your healthy memory, your life, your heart! How blessed we are to be able to "remember" together!

Life is filled with second chances...and joy truly can replace the pain!

And...through it's wound, we see it's secret!

Brother, I'm so glad your heart was saved!

I'm sorry the miles have kept me from being there this year to help you devour your all-time favorite cake...but (for some reason) ;) I was craving it I stopped at cheesecake factory for a slice to go. I'll be thinking of you with every bite...and I know you will enjoy every bite of your very own, favorite Lemon Torte Cake! You deserve it!!  Happy Birthday to you!!!

A contented heart...with every bite...loving lemon torte!

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