I love lemonade. My favorite is the diet lemonade at Chick-fil-a. Several years ago I got hooked on it and since then it has been a special delight. The only problem is that the lines at Chick-fil-a are so long that I usually just skip going there altogether. So…I’ve learned that other lemonades are a close second, especially Crystal Light, and I can make that at home and carry it with me to work, thus eliminating the waiting in line at Chick-fil-a. Sometimes you just have to make the best of a situation, even if it’s not exactly what you want.
For the past five months, there have been a lot of lemons in my life. To begin with, my mother died in December from leukemia. She fought a good fight for eight long months; at one point, we thought she had achieved remission but it was only a temporary stay of five short weeks. When her leukemia came back, it came back with a vengeance as most cancers do when they recur, and none of the chemotherapeutic agents would touch it. I miss her. Grieving over the death of a loved one comes in waves, especially over the course of the first year. Some of the big waves you expect and you survive them; others come when you least expect them. Some of the waves knock you down; others gently wash over you, but all are filled with memories and a sense of loss. I am in my “year of firsts” as I experience all of life’s milestones for the first time without my mother. My birthday was especially hard as it was the first time in my life that I didn’t get a card from mom. And Mother’s Day is right around the corner. I am already bracing myself for this big wave.
Before I could even find time to grieve for mom, I found the lump in my breast – in mid-January to be exact. More lemons. It felt like being hit over and over with a hard ball as I’ve endured one test after the other, two surgeries, and the suffocating news of the final diagnosis. For once, I am glad that my mother isn’t here because my illness would have worried her too much.
Last week, my father was placed in Hospice care. Right now, he’s still at home with multiple caregivers. I’ve known this was coming for some time as dad has been slowly “melting away,” much like a snowman does as the temperature rises above freezing. First the carrot nose falls off, followed by the rocks that have been carefully placed to form eyes, mouth, and, of course, the buttons. Then the perfectly round shapes that form the body become uneven as the temperature continues to rise. Bit by bit, dad’s functioning and cognitive abilities are leaving. I’ve not been able to spend much time with him recently due to my surgeries; then he caught a cold and developed an infection both necessitating that I stay away. Now, he doesn’t know me any longer. More lemons.
Last week I passed two little girls with a lemonade stand in their front yard. It was spring break and they were excited to get an early start on their summer project. Of course I stopped and purchased a cup. They used the good stuff – Crystal Light. Drinking my lemonade, I was reminded of whose I am. I belong to God. Cancer does not define who I am. I am a beloved child of The Almighty!
Cancer wants all of your time. It demands your attention with the doctor visits, the chemo treatments, the entire pharmacy of medications that you have to take to keep the side effects at bay. Every time I look in the mirror I am reminded that I have cancer. More lemons. If you let it, cancer will consume you. So what do we do when life gives us lemons? Make lemonade, of course!