Life is so Yin and Yang . . . you’d think at my age, that wouldn’t come as a surprise or even a complaint. I know in my heart that in order to truly see the brightness, we also have to spend a little time in the Upside Down (Stranger Things anyone?). So much as been written and pondered over this fact of life that I don’t have any new words. But I have a tree-full of lemons that are begging for a metaphor.
After spending a glorious weekend at Sea Ranch (see my earlier posts, if you missed them), the yin hit the fan. On the car ride home, while Husband was driving, I received a text from a friend about a former student, Little Miss B. I taught Little Miss B in first grade and she was my hero. At the time, she was going through the final rounds of treatment for childhood leukemia and I marveled at her courage and humor, how she was able to carry both the dark and the light in her tiny five-year-old hands. And while I know you’re really not supposed to have favorites, Little Miss B was one of mine. She made you believe in everything.
I went on to teach Middle School the following year, and a few years later, Little Miss B was in middle school. I never had her again in my class, but she would be all smiles when I would see her. Over the years, I would often run into her and her family downtown; they were one of those families who embodied that zest for everything that you wish you could bottle it and give it away for free.
Well, Little Miss’ cancer is back. I read the story on her Caring Bridge site and I wept. Her mother told the story of a pimple that didn’t go away; about a series of escalating doctors; about a biopsy that was supposed to be nothing and turned up a malignancy. Suddenly, nothing makes sense to me and I railed and wailed all the “whys” at the universe. I knew it wouldn’t help, but sometimes you just gotta scream.
Back at home, after pulling myself together and unpacking the car, I started to contemplate dinner and remembered that we might have some tomatoes still on the vine (as it turns out, we have buckets of them!). On my way out to the tomato plants, it was a shock to see my lemon tree laden with lemons. Dozens and dozens of lemons. This is a tree that is lucky to produce a measly few each year but now, miraculously, had branches so weighted down they were nearly touching the ground. I stared. It was an amazing sight . . . amazingly beautiful.
I thought in cliches . . . when life gives you lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade. The more lemons? The more lemonade. Pitchers and pitchers of it. Sometimes, life hurls those lemons at you . . . so you put on your catcher’s mitt — because you know, there’ll be no refreshing, sweet lemonade without them.
So today, through a slightly broken heart, I give thanks for the lemons . . . because they’re surely a sign that there are better days (and much more gratitude) ahead.
In the meantime, if you are a praying sort, please say a prayer for my young friend. If you’re not into praying, if you could send a few healing thoughts into the universe I would so appreciate it. Maybe just remember that sometimes our youngest and brightest are fighting unspeakable battles and they can use our help in making lemonade.
Now, where did I put that lemon squeezer???