Friday, September 26, 2008

Saying Goodbye

About a year ago, L found out his uncle had leukemia. He felt badly because this was a man he hadn't taken the time to get to know, one he hadn't seen since he was a child. So the very next weekend, the car was packed for a day at his uncle's house in New Jersey. And then I got sick. Uncle H was just about to start chemo, and the last thing he needed was a compromised immune system. So I stayed home. I've regretted it ever since.

In the past year, L got to know his uncle better than ever before, and we were all touched by how he stressed the importance of family, even to those who had blown him off for so long, saying it was too far, would take too much time to visit. His emails and phone calls were daily for some time, and we all felt that we were in this fight together.

In April, H took a turn for the worse, right before his scheduled Independence Day bone marrow transplant. The NJ hospital refused to treat him until he was fully recovered. Fearing that would never happen, H and his wife packed up and stumbled down to a hospital in Texas known for their success rates. This is about when that ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach started. L had told his uncle all about me and his uncle had said "I can't wait to meet her." Although we'd spoken on the phone, I'd begun to feel that might never happen.

In May, L's mother was declared a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant. This was more than we'd been hoping for, and everyone, Uncle H included, was walking on air. August came and the transplant was made. Problem was, it wasn't taking. In order to transfer bone marrow, they must first kill off all of the patient's own. The hope is that the transplanted marrow will start growing and take over blood cell production for the body. This was slow going. The autoimmunity designed to protect our bodies from invaders worked against him, rejecting the new cells. H was getting worse and the medication was putting him through so much pain. He kept asking for them to stop and let him go home. Because of this he had to be sedated.

Yesterday his suffering came to an end. L received an email at 11am from H. One line: slow going but still fighting. At 4pm his mind lost the battle against his body. And I sit here watching my blinking cursor without the words to describe what the world has lost. We're glad there's no more pain, but we wish we could have fought harder.

So H - here's to you. A bright and cheery recipe for the person who was always smiling and joking, even in the midst of the fight of your life. I'm sorry we never did meet, but you've touched my life more than you know.

Southwestern Chicken Pizza

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough, prepared through the first rise
chile sauce, recipe follows
sliced chipotle chicken, recipe follows
2 cups shredded Colby Jack

salsa fresca, recipe follows
creamy lime sauce, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone on the middle rack. Roll or stretch dough out to a 16 inch oval (or the size of your pizza stone).

Remove the preheated pizza stone from the oven and place on the stove's surface. Transfer pizza dough to it. Let the bottom cook about 3 minutes or until slightly crisp, then use tongs to flip the crust over (this seals the dough so it doesn't get soggy).

Spread on chile sauce. Top with chicken, then cover with cheese. Bake 7-10 minutes, or just until cheese melts and crust is cooked through.

Top pizza with salsa fresca and drizzle with lime sauce. Cut and serve. If you're afraid of the messiness, eat with a fork. I'm daring, messes don't scare me!

Recipe components are listed in the order they should be prepared.

Chipotle Chicken
2 chicken breasts
2 chipotle in adobo, finely minced
1 Tbsp adobo sauce
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp worchestershire sauce

Put chicken breasts in a bag. Add all other ingredients and squish to mix and coat chicken. Marinate in the fridge 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat a grill on high. Grill chicken over high heat until cooked through and well charred. Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Salsa Fresca
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 cup ripe tomato, diced
2/3 cup roasted corn
1/3 cup black beans
3 pickled serrano (green) chiles, finely minced
3 Tbsp finely minced cilantro
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Let sit so flavors can develop, at least one hour.

Creamy Lime Sauce
zest of one lime
juice of half a lime
2 Tbsp minced cilantro
1/2 cup ranch dressing

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

Chile Sauce
2 chipotles in adobo, finely minced
2 tsp adobo sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1/4 cup barbeque sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Set aside.


Heather said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. It says a lot about "Uncle H" that he touched your life so much without ever meeting you. This is a delicious meal for his memory.

Anonymous said...

OH Dana! What a sweet post. I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounded like an wonderful man.

Anonymous said...

I've been lurking your blog for a while, and wanted to say your post was a wonderful tribute to him

very sorry, hope your family will find peace in the fact he is not suffering any longer


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