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When Life Gives you Lemons

  • My 20-year-old daughter was recovering from two massive strokes. My world had been completely turned around and shaken to its very core. I stood in line at Wal-Mart attempting to get her medications with no more than 24 hours of sleep in the last 7 days. Tears begun to fall as the pharmacist blankly stared and said, “Her Medicaid is inactive”. My phone rang, almost as if it were cued. My daughters stuttering and broken voice whispered from the other end, “The police are here to evict us”. My knees buckled as I scrambled my already weary brain for nouns, verbs or adjectives. None was coming. I walked away from the counter throat clenched, heart racing and a sob so deep people began to stare.

    I love writing, about as much as I love food. I have at various times used both as tools to get me through some pretty rough patches. Most recently, I mastered cooking gourmet looking meals in a motel room with two small burners and a microwave. Trust me, you haven’t lived a full life until you have cooked for 5 people in a double occupancy room.

    I mean, there has to be a jokester running the ‘life’ portion of heaven. I imagined him, fitted quite regally in his heavenly jester robe, looking down upon me saying, “she could use a little contrast and excitement”; then boom, there we were.
    That fast? Yes, that fast. One day I was a school bus driver waking up at dark thirty daily to transport groggy K-12 graders to their designated schools. I was finally beginning to master my new plant-based lifestyle and enjoying a 60 pound weight loss victory; then boom, there we were.

    What is it about life that says, “Oh she’s carrying a ton of bricks, lets add a few more for dexterity”. Like losing my job to care for my ailing child wasn’t enough. As though being jostled out of my sleep early morning as my car was being hitched to a tow truck wasn’t enough. Walking into the hallway the week before as my only daughter was having a stroke wasn’t enough and the second stroke that happened an hour after her first surgery was surely not enough. Who’s in charge of this whole operation?? I want to speak to the MANAGER NOW!

    Sigh, four months later, I’ve learned, it was yet enough. So BOOM, there we were. One garbage bag filled with mixed clothes, none matching the other. A grocery bag of seasonings because, well, we couldn’t be homeless AND eating bland food. Karen’s raisin laden potato salad just wouldn’t do.
    From the concrete grew, tasty morsels of fried mushrooms, meatless chili that would confound the most carnivorous person and smokey flavored, spice enriched ever so gently wilted greens. Then there were the lemons. Life had given me SO many lemons, I was drowning. I hadn’t a clue what to do with them. Bright and yellow, invoking the warmness of the sun with a tart bitterness that wrinkles the brow of babies and toddlers from coast to coast. I couldn’t come up with new ways to use them before more came; they were the bane of my existence. Until, I planted a seed. From the concrete jungle of my weariness a tree sprouted. A tree.
    Now when I look out of the window of my life, instead of seeing lemons thrust upon me as though to knock me down, I see rows of brightly colored trees, that I planted. They provide shade from the harshness of the sun. I now see them in all of their glory, not hard fruit intended to cause me to stumble. Instead, a glorious gift given to add contrast, flavor, seasoning and depth; an enrichment.

    So if you find yourself with more buckets of lemons than you know what to do, plant the seeds, take back your control and on the most hot humid days of your life’s summer, you’ll find rest, I know I did.

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