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Two Sides

Yesterday, Oklahoma and other parts of the Midwest US were hit by forces of nature. Many died. The numbers are still coming in: 91 when I last checked, with at least 20 of them children. In Iraq, almost 60 people were killed by multiple bombings.  My heart and prayers go out to those who are still around, feeling the devastating losses they must be experiencing.

Today, my SO is expecting her first grandchild, Adriana Grace. The mother is being induced around noon today, and while I wish I was there for the birth, I can also only send out my heart and prayers for a healthy baby to enter this world.

Death and birth: two sides of what goes on around us. Many more will pass away and many more will be born today.  I don’t even know what I’m feeling, as there are so many emotions coursing through me.

When I spoke to the Rabbi yesterday, she gave me more goals to work on: seek out a psalm a day, and find what resonates with me; write a Holy template of my life, the outstanding moments, good and bad, and see what they have brought; and to find gratitude in what happens in the here and now, and give thanks for it, for finding more of what is good in front of me, and that that is (possibly) finding and embracing God in my life.

A lot to think about.

God, please be with the survivors of those who died by violence, from the hand of another or by nature. Please ease their suffering as best as possible, for they will have a tough time ahead of them as they continue on.

God, please be with those giving birth today. May there be healthy babies born; ease their mother’s pain during the process. May love and happiness find them, envelop them, and bring joy.

 

baby feet

Passing Another Day

Today would have been my mother’s 87th birthday.

This has been a hard week for me, starting off with Mother’s Day and now this. For others who’ve already mourned the passing of parents, I can understand the feelings that these types of days can amplify. It hasn’t been easy, going through the “firsts”.

The following prayer, by Naomi Levy, mostly says what I’m feeling. There are parts I would edit, add to…but, I thought better of it, and decided to leave it as it is. I’m sure many, if not all, have had the good and the not so good we see in our parents. We live the stressful times when they are with us. Time to let them go now that they, too, are gone.

“I miss you. You gave me my life. You were my protector, my teacher, my moral compass, my comfort. I feel so alone without you. No one worries about me the way you did. No one loves me the way you did.

Please forgive me for the times I caused you pain, and for the times I took you for granted. I can’t begin to fathom all the sacrifices you made for my sake.

I want to thank you for all the ways you blessed my life. Nothing can replace the gaping hole your death has left in my life. But mixed together with ll my sadness, there is a great joy for having known you.

I will remember your smile, your touch. I will remember your laughter, your kindness, your generosity, your determination, your love.

Thank you for the time we shared, for the love you gave, for the wisdom you spread. I will always treasure the lessons you taught me. i will carry them with me all the days of my life. I am so proud to be your child.

May God watch over you and bless you, with gentleness and with love. As you blessed me. Rest in peace. Amen. ”

~from Talking to God, by Naomi Levy (c)

Happy Birthday, Mom.death-lifetime

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote by Neil Gaiman
Art (c) DC Comics

Burnout and Disappointments

arnold-1-weary-of-myself-copySo, here we are. A week I’ve been dreading, as I mentioned on Sunday (which was Mother’s Day). It’s now mid-week, and the presence of this coming Friday looms over me. As I’ve mentioned previously, this May 17th would have been my mother’s 87th birthday. It’s a sad week, not as horrible as I thought in those regards…

but…

Today I had a mid morning break. I sat in the school library, trolling the internet for work to apply to. A teacher was already at one of the computers when another came in. Instantly, their conversation was solely on recent deaths in both families. There was nothing for me to do but log off as fast as I could and bolt from the room. I was propelled down the hallway, looking for some refuge. It just came out of nowhere, and the feelings just caved in my head a bit.

Just not what I was expecting. School is full of life; all the little ones just bouncing off the wall. Being aware that it is all about them, their safety and well being, was a saving grace.

Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to Friday.

As to disappointments…I have, since Sunday, received about six rejections from jobs (not even an interview, just that my credentials do not meet what they are looking for). Today, I got a call from a job for the summer (and possibly beyond) that I had high hopes for: they did offer me the job, but only 12 hours a week at $25/hour. Yes, it’s better than nothing, but I have another offer that at least will give me more of a weekly wage during the summer.

So, others would say (and I know who they are) that I should be happy that I did well on the interviews I’ve had and have gotten offers. So many others don’t even get to the interview stage. I get that…it’s just I see a dangling rope in front of me, and while I may grab it, it ultimately is not strong enough to pull me out of the dregs I’m in. Enough metaphor?

I did get a one week residency that will help my June out, so that is a good thing. When saying my prayers, I asked God for some break…this definitely came out of no where and is most welcome. So…thank you, God.

I am weary, God; please renew my spirit. When I despair, fill me with hope. When I feel as if I have no more to give, remind me that my strength comes from You. When I assume that my energy is finite, teach me to see that I am connected to an infinite source of inspiration and goodness.

When I lose faith in myself, remind me that I am blessed with enormous talent and ability. When I get lazy, remind me that there is much work to be done and that there are many people who need my assistance. Teach me to see that my efforts do make a difference.

When I forget why I am doing what I am doing, help me to recover the excitement, the meaning, and the satisfaction that led me to this work. When I lose direction, show me the way, God, back to passion, back to enthusiasm, back to You. Amen.”

~from Talking to God by Naomi Levy (c)

A Delicate Week

People%20can%20make%20me%20laugh[1]Some of my closest friends lost their mothers years ago, and I’m only now realizing I did not take that into account (or I don’t remember if I did) the pain they might have felt, the loss, on Mothers Day. I know it grows more difficult around holidays, and on the birthday of those who passed. Rich, Sam, Barbara, Kim, Molly…I’m sorry if I didn’t extend myself to you during those times. No excuse. I just hope that it is easier for you all, and you retain fond memories.

I have the double whammy this week: Mothers Day today, and then this coming Friday would have been her 87th birthday.

I want to thank Doug for sending me the above photo and saying, and reaching out to me today, knowing this would be a tough one. He spoke of my “inner circle of friends”, and he needs to know that though we’ve never met, and have not had the depth of experience together, that I truly consider a kind soul like his to be part of that inner circle. Thank you, Doug.

Came The Wind, a very short piece I wrote for Tale Spinning  yesterday, was driven by how I’m feeling. We’re left to go on, and to deal with our own feelings and memories. Not all are pleasant ones: it is up to me on how I deal with them, and how I let them go. It’s all we can do, as we continue on, and hope that when the day comes when we are no longer around, we leave more good memories than bad.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.

Words I Can’t Play

wordI play Words With Friends (on FB) pretty much every day. It is one of those things that relaxes me, calms me down if I’m agitated, and it helps me focus and think. I don’t care if I win or lose: it’s just that something that I enjoy, and I need to do things that I like. There have been days/times where I just can’t face doing much of anything, and when you are in those types of moods you really do need to do something. Thankfully, those types of moods are passing.

In playing a few games this morning, I made an observation: I will not play the word death or any variation of the word.  I know I’ve done that before, but this time it happened in two different game boards, one right after the other. I made other words, skirting the letter D like the plague. It’s solely an observation, yet it makes me realize that I still have a ways to go in healing, in bereavement.

There is no time limit, nor is there any level I should be at. I just find that I can be stopped by writing a word out in a game, and it causes me to wonder why. As I’m typing this, I can think of one thing: as I wrote above, playing Words W/Friends is something I enjoy. Obviously, I have no joy in the word death, as it relates to my mother & father, my friend Charles, and all too recently the bombings in Boston and Israel. Am I restraining myself to mix in those words to something that gives me pleasure? Probably, that is one answer. It’s all a work in progress.

Anyways…because I needed to divert myself, I looked at a FB group I belong to, and a title I read felt apropos for today: I read the blog To Gyre and Gambol by Thom Brown entitled Say Yes To Life. I encourage you to read it, as Thom re-posted a very poignant speech that was made after 9/11. It is a good fit for the senselessness of what is going on in the world.

I hope you say yes to life, not just for those you know and love, but for the rest of the world.

No More Hurting People

Martin Richard, victim of violence

Martin Richard, victim of violence

Boston Marathon relief effort: How you can help

Boston Marathon Bombings: How To Help

A Prayer For Peace, by Naomi Levy from Talking to God (c)

Let us live in peace, God.
Let childrenlive in peace, in homes, free from brutality and abuse.
Let them go to school in peace, free from violence and fear.
Let them play in peace, God, in safe parks, in safe neighborhoods; watch over them.
Let [married people] love in peace, in marriages free from cruelty.
Let men and women go to work in peace, with no fears of terror or bloodshed.
Let us travel in peace; protect us, God, in the air, on the seas, along whatever road we take.
Let nations dwell together in peace, without the threat of war hovering over them.
Help us, God. Teach all people of all races and faiths, in all the countries all over the world, to believe that the peace that seems so far off is in fact within our reach.
Let us all live in peace, God. And let us say, Amen.

Yizkor

Hakurba Synagogue in Jerusalem Israel (end of 20th century)

Habakkuk Synagogue in Jerusalem Israel (end of 20th century)

It’s a weird week, religion-wise. I held a Seder on Monday, the first night of Passover (Pesach). My SO, daughter and son-in-law were there. I did the service with a different translation/edit of the Seder from last year (and from previous years when my mother was alive), and I’m not sure if I liked it (it covered more than last year’s Concise version, but still left much to be desired.) The older version I used to do drives me crazy, as it’s almost a straight translation, and bores me to tears with it repetition and droning quality. Anyways, this year’s Seder is done, and I’ll continue my search for a version that really does suit me, an interpretation that has deeper meaning.

This coming Monday heralds the last day of Passover, and also is one of the four times of the year we are supposed to have a Yizkor memorial service. I will be doing this for my mother, who passed away in October 2012, and for my father, who died in 1999. I am sad to say: I never went to a Yizkor service for him, then. I am doing this, now, in both their names, as well as for my grand parents, uncles, aunts and cousins who are no longer with us.

What makes it a weird week is that it also is running consecutively with Easter week celebrations. I’ve wished many of my friends (and my SO) well during this time, and I will be going to Easter service with my SO. Then, Monday, the Yizkor service. From one to the other…but, for me, it all fits. It’s a complete spiritual journey I’m on. I’m not turning my back on my heritage. I’m opening up to what so many others who surround me have: faith in a higher power. I’m still not sure where I stand in all that, and I think it will be a long ongoing process for me.

I’ll be saying a special Yizkor mediation, one that was sent to me by Rabbi Pam, one that deals with the mixed emotional feelings I have with my parents. I hope that it will give me the cathartic release I’m looking for, and the start to move on.

My friend Rich sent this in an email, from The Rabbi’s Study, Congregation Beth Emek in Pleasanton, CA:

Dear Chaver (Member),   

On Monday morning, the seventh day of Passover, we will gather to worship at 10:30 and our prayers will include a brief Yizkor service. There are four Yizkor services during the year – on Yom Kippur, Simchat Torah, the 7th day of Pesach and Shavuot. Our celebration will be festive and lighthearted with a lovely luncheon for all who attend, but when we pray during Yizkor our happiness will be of a much different nature…melancholic, thoughtful and reflective. We will acknowledge our loved ones who have died and their presence will be felt.

 One might think that once the body disappears love would vanish too, but love continues after death. Jewish philosophers have taught that what is real is that which lies between two human beings. We may have bodies that exist as separate entities but the essence of life is the in-between – the relationship. Two poles exist but the love that connects them is the true essence of life and that relationship – between two souls – knows no physical limitations. Death is a veil that separates two bodies but love, knowing no boundaries, joins one soul to the other.

Our God is good. Would our loving God allow our cherished bonds to break? Every soul glows forever in relationship.

 On Monday during Yizkor we will recall our loved ones who have entered eternity – our fathers, our mothers, our spouses, our grandparents and cousins, and cherished friends, as well. And we will know that they are with us still, for God has created a pathway between their world and ours…by the memories we cherish and love that never ends.

Monday morning…10:30… Festival service and Yizkor.

L’shalom,

Rabbi David Katz

I wish you and yours a Good Pesach (Passover), a Happy Easter, and for those who celebrate other things, or nothing at all, a good and healthy time to come.

Finding Passover

“Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. For what does it commemorate? It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from most foul and cruel tyranny. And so, it is Israel’s – nay, God’s protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national.”
~ Morris Joseph

“Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being”. – Morris Joseph

passover tat

At this Passover season, I wanted to find more meaning for myself in the holiday, as I did during Chanukah. Again, the Seder used to be conducted solely in Hebrew (first by my Grandfather when I was very little; then, in our home, by my father) and held little to no meaning for me. It was done, and we had to wait for dinner to be served. The meal itself was always anticipated with delight, as it was one of the few times a lot of interesting dishes were made.

But, the ceremony itself? The meaning behind all the words? It was a chore to sit through as a kid and even as an adult.

Then, with my father’s passing, the task of running the Seder fell to me. Since I barely speak any Hebrew, I do it primarily in English, with Hebrew phonetics for the prayers and certain passages. I still remember the songs, and the lilt, the cadence, of the readings, and do my best, at times, to emulate what I do remember.

We used the same Haggadah for years, and the literal translation of the Hebrew text was ponderous. Last year my mother was unable to be with us (she had had an operation and was in a rehab center) and this year she is gone. I have tried two different texts both years, searching for a translation/interpretation, that would bring the spirit of the Seder to life. Both texts offer sections that illuminate, but neither is “just right” yet, in my opinion.

In looking at Passover quotes, I found the two above from a 19th Century Rabbi, Morris Joseph. Those two quotes have helped me, a lot, already. There are many ways that liberty of the individual is still confounded; it is not an ancient concept, the thousands of years ago story that is told during the Seder. Yesterday on Facebook, so many people rallied around issues of equality. It stirred up things on the boards, from both sides of the issue. It also spills over into those around the world who have no freedom, whether it is sex trafficking, child soldiers, fear of reprisals from “gangs” or power groups, or even a people not being allowed their own land: yes, I do believe that Palestinians should be allowed to live in peace, as I do believe Israelis deserve it too.

I’m trying to find my own inner peace  (read HERE for my friend, Lisa Kramer’s, take on Inner Harmony) and I’m trying to understand what I embrace on a deeper level. Passover is one thing that I still need to dig deeper into.

There Are Days…

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” ~Aesop

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” —Paulo Coelho

StormySkyYesterday I made dinner for a High School friend who lost her father only a week ago. She has been staying with her mother through the week. This is the same person who wrote that compassionate letter to me (see HERE) when we were only 17.  We talked about our parents,  about forgiveness, about High School, about ourselves, now, and all that is wrapped up in being “our age.” I know that I was barely eating a week after my mother passed away, and she also picked at her food. My hope is that our time together was beneficial for her, in some way.

It was for me, in a number of ways. I wish and pray for only the best for her, her mother and brother, as they go through this and continue on. It may not be much, but it is what I can do.

There are so many things sizzling in my head: two consulting jobs that are compteting with each other (and have their own headaches attached to them);  no work past June at the moment; paying bills; removing the clutter of so many years (mainly my mother’s, but also my own); and then…

…there are the issues I am going through mentally/emotionally, dealing with spirituality, prayer, forgiveness, bereavement, and  bouts, still, of anxiety, depression &/or despair.

Besides the daily prayers, I just started a 21 day meditation program instituted by Deepak Chopra &  Ophrah. So far, coming on Day 4, I’m not sure about this, but it is only asking 16 minutes of my day. I will stick it out and see what it brings. It is way too early in the process to judge it one way or the other.

Overall, I’m still feeling listless and without direction. It gnaws at me, and I get frustrated. My days are often filled with worry: today, just not a good one. I looked for some guidance, some succor: I just opened up Talking to God by Naomi Levy, and this is the prayer  (pg 249) that I came upon:

“I want to know You, God. I want to see the world through Your eyes. To feel intimately involved in all of creation. I want to know why things happen the way they do.

Help me, God, to accept what I cannot understand, to accept life without constantly trying to control it. Teach me how to bend with life, how to repair what I can repair, how to live with my questions, how to rejoice in Your wonders.

When I am faced with events that baffle and astound me, help me to transform my frustration into humility and awe. Teach me to embrace the mystery, God. Remind me to enjoy the ride.

Thank You, God, for this spectacular life.  Amen.”

How do you enjoy the ride?

Plans

benchThey made plans for the holiday
So they would not be alone
Their respective children far away
Each left alone, they turned to their common bond
Of husbands long since gone
Of phone calls and lunches
Of shopping trips and excuses
Of growing older
 
Then one passes
A month before the plan was to be engaged
And the one, who was already bereaving,
Bereaves anew, alone
And there is no communication
And there is no plan, anymore
 
What does she think, on this day?
What is she feeling deep inside?
What is the sorrow she is feeling…
For herself, her friend, both?
 
They made plans for the holiday
So they would not be alone
 
 ****************

This is another piece from Tale Spinning that was written before beginning this blog.