Without warning, an enormous clap of thunder exploded, and my boys and I jumped with fear. A dark storm was brewing, and the afternoon sky had become almost dark as night. The campfire we were just about to start would have to wait until the downpour passed. From the looks of it, it seemed the storm was going to linger a while as the cool mountain wind almost ushered us into our tent for protection.
Mitch squirmed into his sleeping back and wiggled around as if to snuggle deeply into the mound of soft things that surrounded him. I chuckled a little because I did the same thing when I was a boy, and in that moment, I remembered how fun it was to be young. I looked upon my boys with a touch of envy. Mitch pulled his hands behind his head, his face bearing a light mustache from chocolate milk, and began to smile softly. “We’re safe and sound, right Dad?” Mitch said with a mixture of confidence and concern. “You bet, Mitch. This is going to be a crazy camping adventure.” Mitch smiled and said, “I know you’ll keep us from floating away.”
Within minutes, we could hear the intermittent pitter-patter of raindrops on the tent. A few minutes later, a burst of raindrops assaulted the side of the tent as the wind began to pick up speed. Soon, we were in the middle of a torrential downpour. I worried if our tent was rated for an hurricane-like storm. Mitch nudged my arm and said, “Doesn’t this remind you of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day?” Mitch giggled as I peered nervously out the window, keeping an eye out for a flash flood.
We knew there might be bad weather, so our backup plan was to have a den party in the tent. So, I pulled out a portable DVD player, broke out some snacks and pulled up our covers as the boys and I watched a movie under the thinly veiled safety of our tent.
I didn’t sleep well that night. Aside from a few breaks in the early evening, the rain never really let up. So, I laid in the tent in a trance-like state – somewhere between sleep and wakefulness … sitting up every hour to make sure the boys were dry. By morning the kids were rested, and I was hammered.
Of all the moments in life, the ones I remember with great fondness and nostalgia, aren’t the times things went perfectly. Instead, the moments I treasure most are when we struggled and found our way through a hard time. Don’t get me wrong, perfect times are just that … perfect. I love and appreciate them for what they are; honey is honey. But the taste of lemonade is never so sweet as when you must work to make it so. Perhaps that’s why hard times often end up becoming our best times, in the end.
This photo of Mitch reminds me that even in our difficulties, we can make the best of what we’ve got – and somehow, some way, we’ll look back and be glad we lived the life we lived. In every struggle, there’s a price to be paid; but in the end, that’s what makes the sweetest lemonade.