When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Somehow I think the person who coined that phrase never lost a child. In concept I get it but in reality the lemonade is just as bitter as the lemons. Oh sure, it can be watered down and sweetened with artificial sweeteners but it is still sour. It has been 18 months since Jacob died and my life is good, life is certainly better, but bitter at the same time. Lemon’s will always be on the grocery list of our life, lemonade is lemonade no matter how you squeeze the fruit and try to doctor up the taste.
The holidays are on the horizon now and more lemons are on the menu for me. I admire those who are able to drink the bitter drink, making the best of a very difficult time of year. But it’s just not me, I will do my best to endure this second holiday season without my son. Enduring is the best I can do.
I feel the weight and the dread starting to build already. Grief will compound itself, find its release and then repeat itself all over again. Grief is like Old Faithful, you feel the pressure building and know that the geyser is going to blow regularly. This will be the pattern for me the next couple of months and it will continue after New Years day. Jacobs birthday is March 3rd and the day of his death is the 26th. Maybe I will enjoy a menu with less lemonade next April.
The holidays are a bitter time for me now, I expect this to change, but for now I wish it all away. It is so strange to dread the days that you once enjoyed so much in life. There are many good memories from those times, they are memories that I have not opened because of the hurt they will pull out of me. I’m not ready yet, in time I will be.
Grief will not allow me to be happy yet. The holidays cannot change this, they actually add to the pain I feel. I will probably cry and feel my guts turn when I hear the first Christmas song of the season. Music still causes deep pain for me. I can’t run fast enough from it- it’s everywhere I go and I want to pull the plug on it all. It’s not as bad as it was in the beginning, I could say that I hated it at the first but now I’m not as bothered by it. Music actually has become the way I measure my sorrow.
This is how I discover how my heart is doing. Proverbs 25:20 says, “Whoever sings songs to the heavy heart is like one who takes of a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.” (ESV) I can measure my sorrow by my reaction to the music I hear. If it makes me shudder and to bristle like a coat removed on a cold, damp day I know my heart is heavy. If I can walk through a store and hear music without being overwhelmed emotionally I know my heart is healing. I never listen to it deliberately, but when it confronts me where I cannot escape I can monitor my healing by how I react to it.
I am doing the best I can with the lemons in my life. Lemonade is lemonade no matter how you squeeze the fruit. Water it down, sweeten it up it’s all has the same bitter aftertaste. The holidays will never be the same for me and I expect that someday that the lemons will stay in the grocery bag and not come out for Christmas, but not now. Not yet.
A dear lady in our church lost a son 23 years ago this month. Jacob was just a newborn when he died. She said to my wife soon after the funeral that someday the memories would become sweet for us. We are not there yet, we prevent ourselves from remembering- probably for our protection and possibly to our harm. Perhaps the greatest gift for us both would be to remember the sweet times of Christmas past. A little more sweetener in the lemonade would do us some good I guess. What would I like, one lump or two? Two please! Maybe it will help me endure until January 2nd ,2016.