You have heard the old adages about Life being a bowl of cherries and Life handing you lemons to make lemonade, well about three days ago, I was gifted with a box packed with 8 full bags of raw cherries.
The fruit was “day old” when I got it, so I moved fast to get it into a state where I could store it somehow. My first thought was freeze it. (One of my friends at work who doesn’t know about my interest in raw foods suggested cherry tarts….Can you believe it didn’t even sound appetizing compared to the green smoothies I was envisioning?!) So I set out to de-seed the cherries. I felt like an athlete, pushing myself to do another bag and yet another bag. I didn’t have a fancy cherry de-pitter, so I dug in WITH MY BARE HANDS!
I opened the shades above the kitchen sink and stared out into the greenness of my back yard. I was of two minds as I started out. One part of me was bent on saving the cherries and embracing the serendipity of the gift that was given to us (when in my life have I ever been given so much of a food that I cherish which is actually good for me….never). The other part saw the chore ahead and matched that with the line of stresses that had piled up on me recently. The stress was so thick, I felt as if I were in a fog, cut off from the goodness of Life, including being truly present with the ones I loved most.
There I was with a free day, no commitments, except maybe to recover. I have been struggling, barely making it up the mountain lately. (I am talking about LEMONS here.) Life has been kinda sour this month. Work is extra stressful, bills seem to have climbed to new heights, my mind is stuck in a negative feed-back loop….and then, there is my friend, Dennis, who somehow found his way into my life about 7 years ago and ended up being one of my best buds. Dennis died at the beginning of the month. It threw me and my honey for a loop. Here was this man we ate with several times a week, who we sat with at the cafe (like running into family, I just always knew there was room at his table for me and mine for him), who watched our cats,who answered our distress calls when the two of us couldn’t help each other, who talked to us about what was important in life and made us laugh like the moments we were spending together were golden….because they were. As the cherry pits piled up in front of me, I kept hearing myself chanting … If life is a bowl of cherries, this must be the pits.
Then there is the little 12 year old daughter of a friend who passed not long after Dennis. I had just started grieving Dennis after the shock wore off and then Katie passed. It is one thing to lose an adult with his life well-lived, but making sense of the loss of a child is about impossible. Her service was Saturday. It was beautiful and heart-breaking. After the service, another friend, Penny, called to say her mother, who had been ill for sometime, had just passed. (You know what they say about Death coming in three’s.) And the pile of pits felt like it was getting bigger.
And yet. There were my hands drenched with a rich, saturated burgundy as deeply red as blood itself. I couldn’t resist the call of mindfulness that being that close to something natural seems to demand. I kept feeling as if the cherries were anointing me with Life Force. I had to save them, so they could save me. They made me feel connected…to life and health, nature and nurture. They made me look past the loss and into the LOVE. I could see Dennis and Katie in them, and my friend’s mom as well. My eyes soaked them in, and the stain on my hands reminded me how I can be touched by Life itself and how Love leaves a mark that even death can’t erase.
At the bottom of the bowl that held the pitted cherries, a pool of juice collected. I poured it into two tiny cordial cups: one for myself, one for my husband. I have been thinking of Dennis’s poetry. There is that poem he read at our wedding just 5 years ago in July. It is about allowing yourself to be vulnerable, letting someone in, inviting Love to awaken you to Life. Losing someone almost always makes you wish you could Love more purely, throw caution to the wind, open up and risk to the ones you know deserve your heart. My husband and I sat in the quiet of our home and took the cherry juice in. I didn’t talk of stress or loss, but I did have the sense that this juice could make everything better for awhile. I came out of the fog to be present once again with the one I want most to spend my days with. I saw his eyes dance like I had forgotten they could (not because they stopped dancing, but because I stopped looking for them to dance). Getting my hands into the Fruit of Being pulled me out of the pits. And suddenly I knew the truth as it was revealed over my humble kitchen sink….when Life hands me cherries, I will make Love.