I walked down the great big aisles of the American grocery store, staring up at the shelves, which were twice my size and full of candy. It was the candy that I couldn't buy in Czech, and the kind that held special memories of sweet care packages shipped across the ocean or trips to the States. I couldn't have any candy this time though. The doctor told me I couldn't.
In my child's mind, being deprived of this special treat in America was one of the worst parts about being sick. Mom encouraged me, but it still made me so sad. I was sick all the time, and now I couldn't even have treats.
I was 6 at the time.
I was in California with Mom, staying with someone I had never met before (to whom we are so grateful for her hospitality!), visiting doctors and getting to know the hospital well. They hadn't yet figured out where my health issues stemmed from, so they were trying anything, including removing sugar. I can't even remember how that played into the bigger picture. I suppose I'm glad that the loss of candy is what I remember, instead of long days of awful tests and visits to doctors.
The candy taunted me. But Mom had an idea.
We bought a carton of raspberries from the fruit section (which was also impressive and larger than the one we had at home) and went outside. Mom and I feasted on raspberries that day. I've loved them ever since. I remember little bits from being at the hospital, but it's moments like "raspberry day" that I remember more vividly.
Somehow that memory of Mom finding something that would be special is comforting. We took time to just sit and enjoy something amidst the craziness and struggle with health issues. Mom helped me find a treat that would get my mind off of what I couldn't have and remember there were other wonderful things to have instead.
That has basically ended up being my motto with all of my food intolerances. If you can't have one thing, then there must be something else you can find that you absolutely love (and that won't make you feel sick!). When I couldn't have pastries, I learned to love gluten-free baking. When I couldn't have ice-cream, I found smoothies instead. I realized I couldn't eat coconut, so I used almond milk, or had to get creative with dairy and flour substitutions.
But back to the raspberries. I LOVE raspberries. I don't particularly have any special affection for raspberry flavored things, but fresh raspberries are one of the best treats to get. When Mom surprises me with something at the grocery store, she knows that what will make me happy is either dark chocolate, or raspberries (honey comes from other sources than the grocery store! haha).
When I found a carton of raspberries at Aldi for $1.25, I was thrilled. Sure, I could have sugar these days now, but I'd rather eat raspberries. There couldn't have been any better treat to find as I started my second week of classes. Thank you, Lord, for creating raspberries, and for redeeming even the roughest times, like when I was sick. I love how you redeemed that time and gave me something even sweeter than sugar - a memory, and joy.