Tasting ALL the Apples

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

-Louise Erdrich

A friend was shared this quote in her grief of losing her husband. I was taken aback at its raw and intimate sadness. Imagining all the hurt and pain and then the rather depressing heap of rotting apples. But those final words saved me…”Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could”. No regrets. Every moment spent, every feeling felt, every laugh out loud, every tear burned.
Thinking back to Audrey’s sweet life of five years, it was a whirlwind. So many things crammed on top of and around each other. So many lessons learned. So many friends made. So much love shared. So many big moments. But the tiny moments they are the ones that get me, the sweet apples. They make me cry out loud, then they make me giggle, and then they bring the warm feeling of gratitude of time well spent with our little lady and our little family.
The driving to school with her singing along in the back seat…LOUDLY and swinging her head back and forth with such a force I cannot believe she did not crack it open on the window. The throwing her shoes and socks all over the darn place because she could and I told her not to. The “Where’sTommySammah” as it was one word. The reading in bed before a good nights sleep. Audrey reading brown bear, brown bear, word for word or the little blue truck, emphasizing the last syllable, rhyming like a champ. The piles of books.  The finding in her bed in the middle of the night all the way under the covers with her self completely asleep bent in half touching her toes. The Audrey knocking on the wall for her sister Sam to come get her out of bed in the morning. Then refusing to move from in front of the door as Sam pushed it open. Finally getting the door open with her weight pushing against her to find a sulking little sister and then, just kidding, grinning from ear to ear as she gave her kisses. The sitting on the potty for what seemed like hours as her brother, Tommy read her book after book. Her closet opened and unearthed, every dress, shirt, and shorts turned inside out, all over the floor, hangers everywhere and Audrey wearing at least five layers of clothes, “working” on putting on more. The running! The chasing! To finally reach her and her laughing right in my face as I worry about her safety and she is so incredibly happy with herself. The hundreds of lunches, just Audrey and I, the gallons of bowls of soup we shared, drooling, and dripping and licking the bowl clean while soup runs down the counter to the floor, to the dog lapping it up. The yogurt, yogurt EVERYWHERE. The playing on the floor, the walking the farmer up the ladder, the dancing in the living room and then tripping and falling on the ground, cracking herself up, the singing Adele in the bathtub at the top our lungs. The many “Dr. Aimee” assessments of myself, all the babydolls, our reluctant dog, Georgia, and Audrey with her white jacket and stethoscope in hand. The climbing her daddy like he was a jungle gym and then gently digging her teeth into his back due to the uncontained excitement. The “I love you, Mama”, the “pretty earrings, mama”, the “sit and play” as she slapped the ground, beckoning me to play.
So MANY apples, so sweet, so imperfectly, perfect. Such a gift that she needed me for her safety, for learning, for feeding…so many times, I couldn’t push it off, I couldn’t walk away to send an email or fold laundry, I had to stay and play. What a gift. All the worries when she was born, all the differences and challenges. What a gift. I would have never savored and sat and played. I would have busy bodied. I would have “I have to get this done”. I would have missed all the sweet apples. I tasted as many as I could. They just kept falling from the tree and I got as many as I could. Thank you, Jesus.