It was early in the morning, Christmas Eve, when I found a huge loaf of homemade pound cake in front of my door, minus a note.
I knew right away it was from Patrick the cat, down the hall, who never seems to leave one. Whenever I ask his father about this he sharply reminds me…cats can’t write.
The loaf was so big, it made me think of the Lucy episode, when she bakes bread that, when it comes out of the oven, pins her to the wall.
As I’m about to go back into my apartment, the door to Mimi’s old place (my beloved former neighbor) opens a crack, where I see a little lady of 4, peeking out.
“Hi Emily, whatcha doin up?”
She quietly crept into the hall and said, “I can’t sleep.”
“I’m scared. I don’t wanna fly tomorrow.”
She and her parents and brother were going to France to spend New Years with their grandparents.
“But you’ve been up in a plane before. It was okay then, right?”
“No,” she said, shaking her teeny blonde head. “It’s a big bird…and I’m scared’a birds.”
Now let me just say, not only is Emily sweet, but she’s the cutest kid on the planet. So what does any good Italian do given the circumstances? She breaks open Patrick’s pound cake because food, is the answer, to all things, even fear of flying.
“Emily, you’re in luck. Patrick, the cat, baked this for me. It’s his famous courage cake. If we eat some, we won’t be scared anymore. ”
“It’s what keeps us from being scared?”
“What are you scared of?”
“That your mother’s gonna come out and yell at me.”
“What’s in it…the cake?”
“Besides courage? Oh, sugar, butter, flour, milk, maybe a whisker or two.”
She laughed, as only a little kid can, over something so silly.
So there on Mimi’s old welcome mat that lies like a rubber memorial, we each had a healthy slice, crumbs, happily spilling everywhere.
“Are ya feelin less scared yet?”
“Yeah, but, could I please have a little more…to make sure?”
“Okay, but you know what we need Emily?
“Milk?” I love her.
“Yes, I’ll be right back.”
“Bring a bowl too,” she whispered after me.
“For Patrick, in case he shows up.”