This time thirteen weeks ago I was standing by my daughter's bed, watching the fear in her eyes every time she semi-woke up, willing her to rest and not worry. Realising the unthinkable, watching the doctors work to save her, knowing that they couldn't.
Tonight, I am making pizzas in her memory.
She loved pizzas, my Goldy. Could eat three quarters of a large pizza, lubricate it a little with a bucket of coleslaw, burp loudly and demand ice cream. She was as slim as a wand. After I've eaten large quantities of pizza, I want nothing more than to lie down and snooze. Goldy would be energised and ready for stories and singing and music and walks in the park. Alright for her; she just sat there; we were the ones bringing the world to her wheelchair.
Thursday nights were good nights for pizza with Goldy. Our cleaner comes on a Thursday so the house is usually tidy. A takeaway pizza means the kitchen stays pristine for one more evening. Goldy was an enthusiastic pizza eater; grab a slice with both hands and hoover the topping off it in one large slurp. Lick the base and munch, open mouthed, on the soggy innards, before casting the crust away. The first slice would disappear whole. The next few would be mostly eaten, busy fingers searching for dropped topping, bits of cheese trailing from fingers to chin to chair. And the final few would be carefully picked over, tasty morsels swallowed and the rest distributed around the room and secreted in the folds of her clothing. Tomato and olives and cheese mixing to a deep reddish purple colour; hands and eyes and hair and clothes and chair. Glee. And best of all, on a Thursday night our carer would come and process Goldy through the shower and into bed, dealing with the whole pizza monster whilst I simply swept up the crumbs and sat back to wallow in carb overload. Showering the purple headed pizza eater was always an entertaining exercise; as she was hoisted out of her chair bits of half chewed pizza would burst out like popcorn without a lid and coat the floor and walls of the bathroom. Strings of cheese would stretch from chair to shower bench and then attach themselves to the carer like giant cobwebs. And all the time you were shedding Goldy's clothes her busy fingers would be selecting the tastiest dropped bits and eating them, flicking the rejected pieces far and wide. Our carers knew to wear old clothing on a Thursday night!
At one point we lived just half a dozen doors away from the pizza place. We used to walk there after school once a week to order a whatever the latest special might be; super humungous pizza for Goldy and garlic bread for myself. Walking back pushing Goldy, arms outstretched, head dancing madly, shrieking for joy at the treat to come, whilst trying to balance a large square pizza box on the handlebars of her wheelchair always entertaining. We only dropped the box once, and they replaced it for us.
We had pizza for Goldy's birthday every year, pizza to celebrate the end of term, the end of the holidays, discharges from hospital. I still have a freezer full of pizzas we had as emergency meals for Goldy; all our carers knew where to find them if I had to be elsewhere. The last meal Goldy ate whilst living at home was pizza, and the first meal Goldy ate with her new carers was pizza too.
I have eaten pizza since Goldy died, but I can't bring myself to order from "our" pizza place. And I can't eat the ones in the freezer either. I wonder what I'd have to mix them with in order to puree them down for the little girls?
I am not making these pizzas for myself but in memory of Goldy. I hope the people who eat them appreciate them as much as she did. And now my pizza dough has proven, and I must go and knock it back.
I wonder what heavenly pizza tastes like.