Monday, June 25, 2012


Watermelon. It's a feel-good food, evoking memories of long summer days, juice spilling from your chin onto your shirt, weekends at the lake, picnics, the Fourth of July and seed-spitting contests.

I was slicing a watermelon today, and another kind of memory came to mind.

A couple of years ago, when my friend Diane was gravely ill with cancer and staying in the hospital, she was craving watermelon. At this point, she was only receiving nourishment intravenously or by sipping a little bit of liquid. Her daughter, the same age as my Katie, and her daughter's father worked hard to find watermelon in early spring so that they could freeze the juice and make watermelon popsicles for her. It was quite a feat, and I know her daughter felt so good to be able to do that for her mother.

I remember being so sad when the realization hit me: "She has actually eaten her last meal? She will never chew any food again? No, this is it. She will never enjoy watermelon or any other food again." I was overcome with grief that she was slipping away, having one worldly delight after another taken from her. And now it was food, one of our most basic needs and pleasures. We take food for granted, we grouse about it, critique it, yammer about it, praise it, obsess about it. We focus our social events around food. Some of our dearest family memories revolve around the sharing of food and then the passing of the recipes to our children.

To never taste food again--It seemed such a cruel thing to live through before passing. It was hard to watch her body slowly trickle away when she always generated so much so much life and energy. She was one of the most enthusiastic people I've ever known.

So when I sink my teeth into a triangle of watermelon now, I think of Diane, and for a moment, I re-live the grief of the watermelon moment. But then I remember that the best way I can move on and still cherish her is to live in the moment the way she did, to really appreciate and enjoy things. Don't get me wrong; she made plans like everyone else. But she had a wonderful ability to be in the moment, to be "into" whomever she was conversing with, to be "into" whatever activity we were doing (such as Girls Group day at the lake) or to be "into" whatever we were enjoying, like rich holiday foods or refreshing watermelon.

Since that time, I have never taken a piece of juicy watermelon for granted again. The bigger lessons for me throughout the journey with Diane are too numerous to go into here, but the smaller ones are meaningful, too.

Like how to really appreciate a red, sweet bite of summer. Diane, I love and miss you!


Mocha with Linda said...

Love this. I'll think of you and your sweet friend next time I bite into a juicy piece of watermelon! Hugs to you, my fellow Lid! <3

skoots1mom said...

She loved u, too...u could see it in her eyes when you were together ... i miss my girlfriend, Jill, also...she died a month b4 my college girl was born

teri butcher said...

With my mind heavy on my friend fighting ovarian cancer, this post has me undone. It's interesting, each time I've gone out to run I always get that dreadful, "I don't want to run" feeling and the thing that kicks me out of it is the fact that I CAN run. So I run because I can, and my friend can't right now. So many life lessons are learned in the midst of the heaviest emotional times. Thanks for sharing this, Linda. Your Diane was beautiful, and I enjoy hearing about her. Continue praying for my Vicki, she's having her third treatment in a week and she's dreading it. Hopefully this is the last one. Ever.

Loui♥ said...

Totally understand!
there was a time in my life,
which overflowed with joy..
due to sharing the simplest events with HIM....
like watching the sunrise..
out over the ocean..
on a cold December morn..
while sipping piping hot McDonald's coffee..
from paper cups..
coulda been the best fine china money could buy..
didn't matter..
it was all the BECAUSE reason:
he thought enough of US to share..
or the time we frolicked like kids in the rain ..
while camping in a tent..
soaking wet..
kissing raindrops away from noses..
and ears and eyelashes..
and laughing..
and loving..
as lovers can and do!
those moments have a way..
of popping up..
at the most inopportune times..
and all i can do is smile..
and savor the memory..
of that very special time in my life..
where i truly Learned..
the beautiful lesson..
of living in the moment..
fully and completely..
never knowing if it will be the last chance..ever!
warmest watermelon hugs..

Mrs. E said...

Such a sweet post--and a good reminder to all of us. You're right- food brings all kinds of memories. And we shouldn't take it for granted!

Crazy Me said...

Love this post and knowing that watermelon is your constant reminder of your friend. Mine is pancakes. It was the last meal I was able to have with my grandfather and I remember he only went because he knew I wanted that special time with him.

Anonymous said...

Linda, your post brought tears to my eyes. My community just lost a nineteen year old gal in a car accident last Friday. She held on through most of the weekend...on life support the entire time. The Lord took her on Sunday afternoon.

Your post chilled me to the bone because your description of your friend's zest for life is exactly how we remember Madison...a gal who was completely into the moment...loud and gregarious...infectious smile and generous heart.

I'm so sorry that the pain is still so fresh. They say time heals, but it sure doesn't remove the sting altogether, does it?

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

For as tender and bittersweet as those memories are I find it wonderfully reassuring that our memories have the ability to draw from something so simple as a slice of watermelon. In a sweet smell and cool taste we are washed over with memories of a loved one.

Warm pancake syrup makes me think of my grandma every time!

Enjoy those wonderful memories and the watermelon!


Susanne said...

Oh, Linda, this touched me deeply. Small lessons are definitely meaningful. Thanks for the reminder to mindful and thankful and to be in the moment.

Marsha said...

Hummingbirds, The Coffee Bean, lunch on the pier at Black Bayou Wildlife Refuge... laughing over the story about how she fell asleep in the shower (yes, in the shower, standing up) after having one small pony (a 7ounce beer), because she never drank, ever, but tried one and that was the result.... so many more memories and how I miss her... how I wanted to talk to her so much when my precious Anna was sick and it hurt to not have my friend to talk to about my dying granddaughter... as thankful as I am that her suffering on this earth came to an end, I miss her that much and more. I would never bring her back to this suffering place but how I long to talk to her just one more time, just one more lunch at the refuge or The Coffee Bean or enjoying a glass of ice tea on her front porch with a dozen hummingbirds buzzing around her feeders... rest in peace, Margaret, you're missed!

Praying for hummingbirds and many more slices of watermelon in this lifetime!

Gypsy Heart said...

Such a sweet post! It's another reminder for us to be in gratitude ~ for everything! A high school friend of mine passed away Tues evening and another friend is in the hospital with NO food, water, ice chips ~ nothing. My heart goes out to all that might be affected by cancer or any other disease that ravages the body.

I know you have treasured memories and hopefully they will continue to sustain you. I'll remember you and Diane when I eat watermelon.


Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. This really makes me think and not take so much for granted.

Dawn said...

I bought a watermellon today and thought of this post as I loaded it into my shopping cart. Thank you!