When I was younger, my mother used to say that the anniversary of my dad proposing to her was both the best, and worst, day of her life. As a child this wasn’t, initially, a comforting thought, as half your friends are spending Christmas in 2 places. But as most stories do with Southern mamas, it went on. The very day my daddy proposed was itself an anniversary of something else: the day her parent’s died. My overly romantic, boy obsessed self took the metaphor and placed it in the “daddy is a prince and I have to find a guy who is a prince too” thought land of roses and rings, where it stayed for many years.
That has always been my go to “lemons to lemonade” story. The darkest day of my mother’s life followed by the happiest day about 10 years later, and as an optimist, you can’t get much better than that. I was certain that one day I would have my own version of a “lemon to lemonade” story, but I never quite expected what mine would entail.
2 years ago today, I was in a car wreck that changed my life. Looking back on it two years later, I don’t know how I would have dealt with overwhelming shifts in my reality any differently. Life sucked for a while. I couldn’t see past the end of my cast boots and wheel chair, but for the first time in a long time I learned what it meant to work hard for something you want, and I danced at my wedding.
1 year ago, Stephen and I stepped out of a moving truck onto a ferry heading to an island off of an island. We were engaged, starting our life together in a new place and ready to take on the world. There are few moments that I have that are happier then when we looked at each other with wind blown sea hair and he kissed my forehead. Adventure awaited us. Us. Something I had always wanted and had finally found in a man who loved me with all his heart and only been sitting a few seats away for quite a while.
2 stories. Lemons and Lemonade. It’s amazing how a young mind can place events so starkly in one category or the other. Sad or joyful. Anger or happiness. Fear or courage. In the past year, I’ve learned that that the lemons were a little sweeter than I recalled at the time, and the lemonade had a slight lip puckering sourness. When I was laid up for months with nothing but weight to gain and pain to deal with, I fell deeply and truly in love with the man who is now my husband, as he showed me what a caregiver looked like and fought to keep my joy glowing. I felt love from people I hadn’t seen or heard from in many years. I watched my family as they were cared while they cared for me. On the opposite side of the angry, sad and fearful coin, there was joy, courage, and even some happiness.
As we stepped off the boat to our home 1 year later, you can bet that behind my lovey dovey, courageous, joyful eyes was fear, sadness, and even a little bit of anger. A new life, far away from every one we know. Sadness. Engaged, but not yet married. Fear. Unpacking boxes with the help of 2 different families with 2 different sets family dynamics. Anger. As big of a smile as I could put on about the excitement of adventure and loving welcome we were receiving, I would be a liar if I didn’t show the other side of that memory. If you’ve seen Inside Out, you probably have a pretty distinct idea of what I’m talking about.
There are always lemons. There is always lemonade. Lemonade made of just lemons tastes like a bunch of sour lemons. The sweetness is an addition only you can make.
2 years since the accident, 1 year since our move, and 8 months, 20 days since Stephen and I said, “I do.”
I’m learning how to add sweetness to the days that look more like lemons, and the ones that look more like lemonade. I’m learning that memories are more complex than Joy or Sadness. I’m learning the words “us” and we” rather than “me” and “my.” I’m learning, well, we’re learning, that marriage is far more difficult and joyful than any book or blog could ever express.
I’m finding my child-like, joyful, optimistic self again amongst the daily lemon storms and lemonade swims.
This isn’t quite the “lemon to lemonade” story my hopeless romantic, younger self wanted to tell, or the one that I thought I would be telling even a year ago,
it is most certainly the metaphor that I want to live into as this anniversary, and others, come and go each year.
Now, where on this northern island can I find some Chick-Fil-A lemonade?!