This was meant to be a toast to the New Year to my friend Michele but alas, I was living life and here it is already the middle of January. Even past the middle. I think this is the longest I have gone without posting since I started this blog about 18 months ago. The good news is that my lemon trees are still chock full so it is not too late to give these beauties a try.
Michele and I met over a dozen years ago when her oldest and my youngest were in the same class in grammar school. As time goes by, I find myself more and more thinking I can't believe that I met people a decade ago, or two decades ago, or (gasp) three decades ago. If I didn't have children to compare to, I would think it was just a couple of years ago. But, alas, Michele's son and my daughter are now frightening close to 21 years old.
In addition to being incredibly kind, smart and beautiful, I have always found Michele to be extremely capable. I think the first time I worked with her was on a big fundraiser for the school and I found out that not only is Michele organized and efficient, but she can also cook! I believe we made Linda's Pumpkin Soup for about a hundred people on that first event together.
It wasn't until about ten years later and many, many committees and events after the soup that Michele and I found ourselves together on a new committee for Angels Foster Care. Along with our wonderful committee of dedicated volunteers, we pulled off a fun and fabulous night to raise money for the organization. And to celebrate, Michele and I hosted a cocktail party. She brought the Lemon Drops.
They were so good! I had tried lemon drops in bars that were fine. Decent. Tasty. But nothing like these. These were tart and sweet and perfectly chilled and just the right amount of alcohol. Michele wrote down the recipe for me on a little scrap of paper in my kitchen. Even though I wasn't much of a cocktail maker (that seems to be changing recently!) I thought it might come in handy some day. Well, that day has come. I want to make a toast to Michele, and what better way to toast than with her own Lemon Drops? I knew I kept that recipe for a reason.
I discovered recently that Michele has even more talent, skill and heart than I ever even knew. Tragedy sometimes drags people down into sadness and despair that creates a deep hole out of which to climb. Tragedy in Michele's life brought strength, wisdom and optimism unlike any I have ever seen.
Nothing hurts a parent more than having their child get hurt. When I discovered that Michele's child had been in an accident and was in the hospital, I sat down and cried. This was not a broken arm or leg. Her son had a head injury and it was unclear what the future held. It was way too close to home. All I could think of was how I would feel if it was my child and how completely and totally distraught Michele must feel. I couldn't grasp the emotions I felt as I wondered how she found out and how she managed to get to the hospital where her son lay, 300 miles from her home. That sick feeling of sadness entered my stomach the minute I found out and stayed with me as I told Baby Girl the news and hugged her tight.
And then Michele started writing. In the midst of all her pain and sadness and uncertainty, she wrote for us. She wrote for the people at home who wondered daily how her son was, how she was, how the family was, what was happening. She told us funny stories to make us think she was holding up okay. She told us sad stories that made us realize that she was barely holding up. She told us stories that helped us get through her trauma. Strength, wisdom and optimism don't begin to describe it.
This story has a happy ending. Thanks to Michele and her equally supportive and optimistic husband, their son is walking and talking, driving and golfing, reading and laughing. When I ask her how they did this, how they do this, how they continue to be so positive and optimistic and joyful day after day, she says "It is the only option."
So here's to you Michele. Thank you for continuing to remind me of the options in life.
"In order to carry a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision." -Dalai Lama
Michele's Lemon Drop
1 cup vodka 1 cup triple sec 1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
Pour into a pitcher filled with ice, stir well and serve in martini glasses.