I did something this week that I wondered if I would ever do again. I bought apples. How something so good for you, so pure and healthy, so organic and sweet and natural could be the source of so much pain and heartache for me is truly paradoxical. Something so natural and good causing such an early, early death in the life of my sweet infant seems anything but natural and good.
Apples seem to be everywhere I turn, everywhere I look. Just as water is everywhere you look if your child drowns. Or driving on the roads a constant reminder of the car accident that took another child's life. The paranoia of every intersection must be excruciating. My sister told me of a friend of a friend whose little boy was strangled in his backyard in a soccer net. A soccer net! Can you imagine the constant reminders that sweet mother has every time she drives past a public park, or walks the aisles of any given store where balls and toys are sold? And that's just the beginning. I have one friend who's son died from choking on a pretzel and another a piece of bacon. How do we look at these foods again and learn to enjoy them and not fear? The reminders of our loss are not only apparent on our faces and felt in every tiny crease and crinkle of our existence, but they are literally flashed right before our eyes on a daily basis.
The Big Apple
Apple Home Decor
Johnny Apple Seed
The list goes on.
I don't blame others for not being as aware as I am. I don't expect my friends and their children to stop bobbing for apples, making apple sauce, pointing out beautiful apple trees and orchards, or baking up some delicious apple crisp. It even surprises ME, I can't expect them to remember, nor do I think it healthy to dwell on and develop a hatred towards one of God's great creations--the apple.
The historical and mythological attributes of apples are astounding when put in the context of the great tragedy we are living with. I remember how crushingly bittersweet it was when I heard my sister-in-law say, "She really was a princess. She took a bite of the apple and went to sleep." Fairy tales and Greek mythology are full of stories of the alluring magic and power of apples.
In Christianity, though the forbidden fruit in the Book of Genesis is not identified, some popular tradition has held that it was an apple that Eve coaxed Adam to share with her. As a result, in the story of Adam and Eve the apple became a symbol for knowledge and immortality (as well as temptation and sin). For the sake of my experience, I focus on the knowledge and immortality part of the puzzle.
There is no doubt that Lucy's partaking of the apple and the subsequent consequences of that choice have resulted in much knowledge being gained. Heartache and pain, oh yes, but knowledge too. Knowledge that humanity is just as good as I could ever hope for. That unity and love and service abound in times and places least expected. That God does live. That there is an afterlife. Knowledge that suffering and pain are real and intense and necessary for our growth, despite the deep anguish we feel we will never escape from. I don't know why I have been asked to bear this pain and this unbearable burden. I don't know why I had to leave my little Garden of Eden, my happiness as I once knew it, and move to harsher conditions of challenge and growth. But here I am, and I am building an altar of sacrifice of some sort, in hopes that my offering will heal my broken heart. I am offering my heart and my will and my pride. It won't bring my Lucy back, but maybe it will carry me through another day, another week, another month.
I will never be able to look at an apple again without thinking of my princess. Did you ever notice that Vic is holding a green apple in the photo at the top of our blog? I even think Lucy has some of it in her cheek. I noticed this a few months after her passing. Isn't life ironic? The very thing that can bring joy and beauty, satisfaction and knowledge into our lives, can be the very source of our greatest pain. Today my pain is real and deep, in time my knowledge will be the same.
“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh
"Our culture has become as skillful in the art of neutralizing emotional and spiritual pain as in sedating physical pain. Medicine is, in a sense, symbolic of our age. Unquestionably, medicine is often a blessing; but as all must know by now, the drugs of our time, both the literal and the figurative kinds, also offer escape—not only from pain, but also from responsibility and reality. And thus some people have developed an instinctive inclination to chart their course, both short and long range, by choosing those alternatives that will minimize their exposure to the uncomfortable consequences of taking life as it comes. Avoiding or escaping discomfort becomes almost a guiding purpose of life, as if getting around such pitfalls were the essence of a happy life." Bruce C. Hafen
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