49: Making Lemonade

49: Making Lemonade

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Making Lemonade

Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together.

~Marilyn Monroe

“Honey, you need to dry your eyes and mix things up. Host a ‘Turn Lemons into Lemonade’ party” and everything will change!” Char said. She went on to explain that each party guest was supposed to bring a friend the other guests didn’t know, as well as a lemon treat to share.

Char was like a second mother to me, and she was the sole person I knew who had experienced the isolation of divorce. She, too, found herself divorced after a long marriage and was the only divorced member of her immediate family.

She knew I’d been spending too much time alone and lonely, and two years of grieving meant I needed a social facelift.

I was hesitant about having a party, yet logic told me it was a positive step toward getting out of the divorce doldrums and putting my marriage behind me. So I agreed to host the party.

Party day arrived, and I made pitchers of fresh lemonade and put them in the refrigerator to chill. The pretty miniature lemon cheesecakes I’d baked were sitting on their own white paper doily, just asking to be eaten.

Susan, who was my guest, placed dishes of candy lemon drops throughout the kitchen, dining, and living room areas. I was mildly unsettled about meeting so many new people at once in my own home where I couldn’t leave if I wanted to make an early escape. I kept telling myself that half of the women coming to the party today were just friends I hadn’t met yet… it seemed to ease my apprehension.

The first to arrive was Linda. I was delighted to see her dressed in a yellow shirt and Capri pants, with her friend, Margie, wearing a yellow and white dress. The party was getting off to a terrific start.

I introduced Linda and Margie to Susan. The doorbell rang as I was pouring the first glasses of lemonade. Lemon bars, lemon biscotti, and lemon poppy seed cake were filling the table; all were serving as perfect conversation starters.

“I hear there’s a lemonade party going on here!” Bobbi belted out when I answered the door. We all burst into laughter. Bobbi was a people person with an infectious laugh that lit up a room. She introduced her friend Rae, whom she’d known for many years.

The ladies streamed in and before long it was standing room only in my tiny house. All the invitees came and each brought a friend, as requested. The party started out lively and the fun continued with a generous amount of chatting, laughing, eating, drinking and, in general, getting to know each other.

Char, the inspiration for the party, was the last to join the group. She made a grand entrance, acting as if she was the Queen of Spring, wearing a wide-brimmed yellow straw hat accented with orange Gerber daisies and lime green ribbons. It was very much out of character for Char to wear anything frilly; most everyone knew her as a sweats and tennis shoes kind of gal. The flamboyant hat lent an immediate frivolity to the party as Char and her friend Doris joined the other guests.

Like most parties, the food was the main attraction. Bobbi and Rae were cracking jokes; Mom and Arlene circled the refreshment table for the fourth time; Denise and Christine discussed how I’d decorated my kitchen with antique utensils.

As I watched the interaction among the ladies, I sensed that my life was taking a turn for the better.

They were exchanging recipes and telephone numbers, sharing quips and anecdotes, and joking with each other like old pals. A warm feeling came over me and at that moment I knew most of these ladies were going to play an integral part in my ability to move on and grow into my new self.

I admired them all for stepping up and attending a party where they knew so few of the guests. It occurred to me that these connections with other women were basically how they managed to survive losses of every imaginable sort. Of course these ladies knew how to do some serious socializing and networking — it was the key to their survival.

“What do you think of my party idea?” Char asked, throwing one arm around me and adjusting her hat with the other.

“I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about the party,” I said. “But it’s reassuring to know my friends will come through for me, and I’ve had a great time meeting new ladies who have ‘been there, done that!’ And today, just like magic, I’ve doubled my social circle. Thanks for helping me see my way out of a post-divorce funk.”

“Hey, you just needed a nudge in the right direction!” She winked.

The party confirmed to me that it was time — time to come out of my shell, shed the past, and embrace new beginnings. My friends, longtime as well as new, started the process of guiding me out of the bitterness and into the sweetness. Why? Because that’s what we ladies do for each other.

~Cynthia Briggs

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