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It’s so hard, mourning someone who isn’t gone. I guess “isn’t gone” isn’t correct.

I made pączki today, and longed for a time, still not so long ago. And yet, so long ago that the memories are generalized. Distant. Faded. The relationship between my grandmothers and food is intimate. The recipes were provisions. Comfort. Connection. My pączki were not the same. They were close. They lacked authenticity.

Losing my grandmother slowly by way of dementia has caused unexpected breakdowns, such as this small moment of realization that she may never be able to tell me what I did wrong. Her recipes are lost, and so, a part of myself is lost. 

I have vague memories – vague because they happened so often it’s impossible to remember specific instances – of her making us nalesniki, the Polish version of crepes. We’d fight over each one as they hit the plate. Sprinkle each with granulated sugar and roll it into a tube. I can still taste the flavor on my tongue.

But I left. I left while she was still well. I was gone while she grieved my grandfathers death. And I’m still gone, as her memory becomes unhinged and she becomes unrecognizable.

The recipes are a reminder that I chose to be distant. I’ll be haunted by this forever.