These last days, life has been throwing lemons at me, and there is no sugar left! How do I make lemonade?
I remember when I used to think that I was somehow very special to God, so special that nothing bad will ever happen to me. And I had all the reasons to believe that, as bad things hardly ever happened to me during my childhood and throughout adult life until very recently. Or, rather, I should say that what would have been considered bad by someone else never really affected me.
For instance, my father was a politician and growing up in Europe, we had a Spanish couple as a driver and a cook, but when he stopped holding political offices because he was no longer in favor, money became scarce and we had to relocate to Africa. Later in life, when I got back to Europe, by my own means, to study, I did all kind of odd jobs, mainly babysitting and cleaning houses or offices, but being on the other side of the divide never made me feel unhappy or challenged. I was still feeling the hand of God on my life, as if he was cushioning me. Even when I was summoned to court, one time, because of unpaid rent!
I have a friend who told me once that everyone is autistic to varying degrees, and I suppose I am rating pretty high on that scale, because nothing really touched me then and little affects me now.
When my Father died a long time ago, I was already over twenty years old and I didn’t cry because although I loved him, there was no special bond between us. In fact, I hardly knew him. I don’t think we ever exchanged thoughts about life. I have no idea who he really was. All I know is, he loved us, his children, and he did the best he could to give us a good education in the best schools, while he could. But I didn’t cry when he passed away.
My daughters sometimes asked me: Mom, are you sure, you are human? We have never seen you cry. I didn’t understand what they meant then, as I felt quite human! And I had been crying! Being married is a reason enough in itself to make you cry! But I understand now that what they meant is: you really don’t know what life is about, until you experience real pain.
Family members around me were suffering, from a job loss, heartbreak or growing pains, but I couldn’t relate to their emotional distress. What was the big deal? Are hardships not part of life? I didn’t understand their struggles, I was not even aware of it as I had managed to go through life without actually knowing what suffering meant, until two years ago, when one of my daughters fell severely ill.
I used to think that in my previous life, I must have been a very good person, because karma was somehow kind to me. So, this time around, I was pretty much chilling, enjoying the labour of my supposed generous and worthy previous life! I don’t know if God thought I was getting too comfortable, not doing much to reach out to people in this actual life, thinking I could get away with the bare minimum!
Those are just idle speculations, as I don’t really know if we have only one chance at life, as some believe, or if we are coming back again and again until we get it, as others think. But one thing is sure, two years ago, when my daughter fell ill, I was brought out of my nonchalant attitude towards life by a terrible blow that left me shaking from head to toe.
With medical help and strong family support, my daughter was able to heal and I was overwhelmed with joy on her graduation day, at her university, in London. I am so proud of her. She was able to live there, to take her medicine regularly, to attend her lectures, to resist the pressure to drink, all by herself!
Thereafter, I was quick to go back to my old habits e.g. being good, but not my best, and not if it entails going out of my way for someone else, as people I admire do!
But two weeks ago, out of the blue, my daughter had a relapse. When something like this happens, you have to question the meaning of it. What message the universe is trying to send me in this harsh way? Bad things happen to good people too, I know, but then, one thing I believe for sure is that you can’t just go through this life like a robot, not trying to change for the better things that can be changed, yourself, to begin with.
I was not able to write before today, because I was in such turmoil. But these last two days, my daughter has been feeling a little better and I could concentrate enough to express my feelings. And actually, as I am reflecting on the past weeks and writing this, I am realizing, that contrary to what I thought, I still have plenty sugar left to make lemonade out of the lemons life is giving me.
My dear husband is sugar, his extraordinary family is sugar, they all came with us to the hospital the first day and now, they look over my daughter when I need to rest. My nieces are very patient and they handle this difficult situation with a lot of wisdom. My own older sister is the rock that anchored our family throughout all these years, when everything could have gone down-hill. My younger sister is, I think, an angel coming straight from the sky. Thanks to her dedication when they were younger, my daughters have the best Christmas memory ever. She is one of the reasons I always feel so secure in life.
And my older daughter is a sweet sugar too as, after a long day at work, she defies the endless Lagos traffic to drop by and see her sister. She is so intelligent, but not only in an abstract way. She has this kind of intelligence that quickly find practical solutions to your problems.
And now that I have started this list, I see that it is endless, as I only mentioned my relatives, but help has come from so many other people, at work, at the clinic…
Not only can I make lemonade, but also I could start a factory!
I really wonder who I was in my previous life!
6 thoughts on “Lemons and lemonade”
This is hands down one of your best articles that I have read. Well done aunty!!!!
Thank you, Dear! I finally understand that I need to show more of myself and stop to be such a mystery to my daughters and to people around me.
you are loved because you are such a lovable person. believe me you will be just fine. sometimes things are indeed difficult but you will make it, I promise! take care. Marie
Thank you so much, Marie. Your words are so comforting! I know I shouldn’t blame myself too much but I believe there is still room for improvement. Thank you for always being there!
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Happy recovery to your daughter, and this is a beautiful piece with a distinguished title.
Thank you, Adichie. I appreciate your comment and your concern. My daughter is doing much better.
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