The healing of two hearts led to making a new one
By Patrick Robinson
Natalie Ann Palady and Jacques Nawar were from two very different worlds but their wounded hearts met in a way that feels both perfect and meant to be.
Natalie is a musician, a singer songwriter whose other career in the dental industry kept her employed between gigs. She was born and raised in Puyallup, WA but throughout her early years found time to travel all around the world. She was good enough to take her music to Nashville where she lived for three years. She worked in dentistry there too but met some famous musicians including Garth Brooks, Miranda Lambert and Jason Aldean.
Jacques Nawar is an award winning and very successful chef. Born in Marseilles, France he trained as a chef in Paris before getting married and moving to the United States and Washington D.C. and eventually to Seattle.
Natalie’s family, including her Grandmother Rose supported her music career but her brother Christopher was her biggest fan. They were very close and confided their dreams and plans with each other. Anytime Natalie needed support, Christopher was there. But in 1998, Christopher, Natalie’s anchor, died in a tragic accident. It left a hole in her life that nothing could fill.
Jacques met Sophia Zouiten, the person who would become his wife when they were both only four years old but lost touch with her when she and her family moved to Santa Barbara, California in 1984. After high school Jacques served as an apprentice chef learning his trade. He has always loved music. His favorite musician is renowned French singer, Edith Piaf. Her song, La Vie En Rose (Life in Pink) is one he listens to often.
It tells you something about his romantic view of life.
Here’s an excerpt:
“When he takes me in his arms
He whispers to me
I see life in pink
He tell me love words
And it does something to me
In my heart, a share of happiness”
Sophia and Jacques reconnected in 2007 and love blossomed. They married in 2009. Jacques learned of an opportunity to work with famous chef Yannick Cam ( of Parisian Restaurant Lasserre ) and the couple followed him with a move to Washington D.C. Then at the French Embassy there with Chef Jean Franchel
Later, they opened their own spot, Cafe Europa which won awards, and became a local favorite for luminaries like Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, and Patrick Leahy. After much success suddenly in late 2010, they lost their lease. With suitable space there at a premium “Sophia said, “Let’s move far away from here,” Jacques agreed and they chose Seattle.
He found work as a consultant, first working with Abbondanza Pizzeria in the Morgan Junction then later buying and selling the restaurant, only to open Pizzeria Credo in the West Seattle Junction a year later. Life was good. Sophia and Jacques, would take car trips to Paradise on Mt. Rainier and loved living in Seattle.
Then in 2014, Sophia told Jacques she was not feeling well. Tests confirmed shocking news. Sophia had cancer. Tragically she died in August of that year, sending Jacques into a spiral of grief and regret. His heart was broken. In a remarkable tribute to her he created the Sophia Salad, comprised of 80 ingredients, to represent all her many qualities.
Natalie had come back to Seattle and resumed both her dental and music pursuits. Her music is a mixture of folk, country and blues. “Its the only thing that gets me out of my head,” she said, Classically trained on the violin she took up guitar at age 26. She married and wanted children but “our timing with each other was not right for a family.” They divorced in 2014. A song she wrote in that period entitled “Dirt poor and No Love,” summed up her feelings.
In March of 2018, Natalie and a group of friends came to Pizzeria Credo for dinner before one of her solo shows. She had been there before but they had not spoken. Seeing Jacques she said, “I saw something in his eyes that touched me and it shook me a little bit. It was a sadness. I could see the weight he was carrying,” She explained. “When you see that… I just wanted to hug him.”
Jacques waited on their table. She was shy and demure. He was charming and gracious, bringing them a bowl of pasta to taste, just then, a girlfriend of Natalie’s saw a spark. “Give him your number,” she said. Natalie declined. Her friend insisted. So on the back of the receipt, Natalie wrote her number and said, “You could call me some time,” and smiled. “I remember feeling like a five year old schoolgirl,” Natalie said. He replied, “Ok” but then she heard nothing for a few days.
Finally, he texted her and they met for coffee.
At first, they connected only as friends. They went on short drives, and had lunch. Then as casual friendships sometimes do, they grew closer. They came to see in each other a chance to heal their hearts, an opportunity for a new life.
One day, a few months later, Jacques was busy cooking and he got a call. “Jacques,” Natalie said hesitantly, “I’m pregnant.”
Jacques was thrilled and said had an experience he can never forget, “At that moment, it felt like Sophia had come up behind me, touched me on the back and said, ‘It’s good, go and be happy.’”
But Natalie had more to share, “I want to name her Sophia Rose.”
“I wanted to try and help him heal,” she explained later.
Jacques was touched to his soul by Natalie’s compassion.
Sophia Rose came into the world at 7:45am, Dec. 18 weighing 6lbs, 8 ounces.
She came to heal them both and it’s almost a certainty, she will live a life in pink.
What an amazingly lovely story!