Riding Out The Storm

by Nancy Vericker
May 4, 2020

Yesterday a powerful nor’easter rode rough all day and late into the night. Strong wind gusts took down power lines. Lightning streaked through the dark sky. Trees were at the mercy of harsh, sustained winds. Cold rain hammered with a force that created leaks in our snug and dry home. The salt pond edging our road was an angry surge of whitecaps and steel-gray waves.

As the storm worsened, my middle daughter received a phone call that a young man in her very close-knit group of friends had died. About an hour later, I received a phone call that an older married couple, who were a great faith presence in our church and a tremendous source of love and strength for me personally, had died of coronavirus.


And it was my birthday.

What happened yesterday—the storm, loss and grief, uncertainty unfolding day after day after day, and the challenge to remain resilient and hope-filled—was truly a bitter icon of what families in the midst of addiction crisis experience over the long haul.

For families struggling with addiction are families who know the storm, know loss, and know life can unravel in a split second.

And they know it all too well.

In the weeks since this virus began tossing our lives hither and yon, I have thought of how much it is an awful metaphor for life in a family system riddled with substance use disorder.

What played out for me yesterday with the dangerous storm and the death of cherished friends while being isolated from loved ones on my birthday just brought that difficult icon into waaaaay too sharp a focus.

Everything I ever learned from an array of wisdom sources during the years my family contended with substance use disorder roaring through our lives taught me powerful strategies for living with resilience and hope.

And the mantra that kept me going all those years into this time now is pretty damn simple:

Lemons to lemonade.
Lemons to lemonade.
Lemons to lemonade.

The mantra is simple. But living that mantra daily is an intentional spiritual practice.

A day at a time.

Yesterday it meant remembering the day was just twenty-four hours long. It meant praying in the midst of difficult circumstances and reaching out to those who are grieving. It meant helping my family stormproof the house and being very grateful to my husband and daughters for making dinner and setting up a birthday cake, candle, and card for me. And it meant sticking to the script of a sweet family tradition started by my daughters on birthdays that we call “Memories”—remembering happy moments we shared together throughout the years.

Lemons to lemonade.
Lemons to lemonade.
Lemons to lemonade.

How do you practice lemons to lemonade in the midst of the challenges in your life?

What helps keep hope alive for your family?

Please share here. We can all benefit from the wisdom of our collective experience, strength, and hope. Thank you!

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Nancy Vericker

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  1. Lemons to Lemonade: Every morning before getting out of bed I say to myself, “What will you do to get through this day?” This intentional question forces me to look out the window, focus on anything in nature, and study it for a moment. This usually brings a smile to my face. I then set a goal for the day – often a very simple and achievable one. Sometimes none of this works, and there are bad moments throughout the day – and that is ok too. I embrace the sadness until it eases up, then move on with my day.

  2. Nancy,
    It’s comforting to hear your thoughts that substance abuse is a lot like a storm. When the you-know-what hits the fan, my convictions about loving my sons are sorely tested. I gather lemons in the midst of the howling winds and somehow can’t find a teaspoon of sugar. Those days, you just want the pain to stop. I can’t always make lemonade but I can allow God’s love to carry me. And when I do, I find that it’s a recipe for hope renewed. Thanks and God Bless. Linda Clare

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