In the last week I have baked three batches of cupcakes. And while each has been topped with generous amounts of my homemade buttercream frosting and spangled with festive sprinkles, their destinations couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Or poignant.
The first two batches were for my great nieces’ birthday party.
Lexi was turning 5 and her big sister Lilly, 7. Since Lilly doesn’t like chocolate (I know, weird), I made two dozen lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting and purple sugar sprinkles. I also made two dozen “ice cream cone” cupcakes, baking vanilla cake in the cones and topping with lots of frosting tinted strawberry pink. Oh, and chocolate sprinkles!
The party was fun. And rowdy. Dozens of kids ran through the house, laughing and playing. Adults formed small groups and talked for hours. We ate chicken and creamy mashed potatoes and fresh fruit salad. “Happy Birthday” was sung (twice) and candles blown (and blown) out. The present-opening session filled the living room floor with crumpled wrapping and discarded ribbon.
I left with a heart overflowing with love for my family…and a smile on my face.
The third batch of cupcakes was for a funeral dinner at my church.
I didn’t know Lois well. She was aging and ailing for as long as I’ve attended this church. But I am friends with her daughter and son-in-law. And I am especially good friends with her grandson, Nicky. (I won him over the year he was 4 and I created a “transporter room” for VBS, with different Bible characters beaming in nightly.)
I visited Lois in the hospital last year when she had pneumonia, taking her a copy of the Sunday sermon and bringing her communion. (We mostly talked about Nicky.) I also went to see her when she was moved to hospice a couple of weeks ago. She was sleeping when I arrived, but I sat beside her and read her a few Psalms and the 14th chapter of John.
Although I usually enjoy baking, I felt strange as I made my dessert for the funeral dinner. Are cupcakes even appropriate? Should they have black icing? I baked fudge chocolate cake and topped with swirls of pink buttercream. They looked happy. Too happy? On a strange impulse, I reached in the cupboard and brought out the confetti sprinkles. I shook a few onto the cupcakes. And then a few more. Now they looked downright festive.
At church, I placed my cupcake creations among the more subdued apple cobblers and plates of cookies.
In the sanctuary, slides of Lois’s life glided past on the huge overhead screen up front. Lois playing the piano, one arm around a huge dog who was sharing the bench with her. Lois with a silly-looking stuffed beaver on her head. Lois smiling in front of a Christmas tree practically buried in presents. Lois holding the hand of her husband as they cut the cake at their 45th wedding anniversary party (the same husband who now sat straight-backed in the front row, staring at the casket). Lois happily holding Nicky at his pre-school graduation. Lois as a high-school graduate, wearing a dress imprinted with purple lilacs, a twinkle in her lovely dark eyes.
The eulogy was filled with stories showing how much Lois loved life, her family, her church. Again and again, people laughed out loud at the mischief Lois had caused, at the joy she had embraced.
Suddenly I was glad I had made cupcakes. And sprinkled them with confetti. I somehow think Lois would approve.
The Apostle Paul tells us, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8). And it’s true. Birthday parties and funerals and everything in-between. All part of the circle of life, all held together by God.
And all connected, at least in my sphere of influence, by cupcakes.