I want to wear blue wings and soar

above the screaming

tantrums of today

I will take you with me

(hold you)

as we gaze down

upon whispery earth

at tiny beings

scuffling about

checking their clocks

and bank accounts


the life of a bird

who does not love so much

that it hurts






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I wish I was fine

It’s like my brain

is doing a freakin’ crime....


From a rap by a child, age 11


When All Goes Splat!: on spirituality & challenges

When All Goes Splat: On Spirituality & Challenges

Yes, that's our dining room chair that has gone splat. A perfect metaphor for our family on some days. We have taken yet one more hit; my husband isn't well. He's the one who keeps it all together, who makes sure that food is on the table, who works from home and is therefore here when someone needs him (or cannot go to school) while I escape the house and work elsewhere. It's been over six years since my son first became ill. I look around and see suffering everywhere--from Syrians fleeing ISIS to Israelis getting stabbed on their own streets, to my PANDAS/Lyme mom friends who are fighting daily for their children's lives. And I wonder--why? Why us? What's it all for?

One of my best friends asked me if I pray. She believes in prayer and she told me about a baby with a brain tumor who was kissed by the Pope when he recently visited the USA. The tumor has nearly been eradicated. Although we are of different religions, we share ideals and beliefs. I have prayed, both to G-d and to my grandmothers who loved me tremendously and would do anything they could to help me. If they could. I guess they can't. Why aren't prayers answered? Is anybody out there?

Then again, maybe some higher power has kept my son alive. Maybe these powers have helped him improve enough to attend school again and earn decent grades despite his everyday challenges. Maybe they have helped him keep the sense of humor he inherited from his dad. Maybe the glass is half full. 

I don't know if I believe in G-d, but when times are very distressed, I succumb to praying. I do believe that there is an underlying energy, some unknown power, and I do believe in science--and the fact that there are still worlds of information that we don't yet understand. I believe in the power of a community to support one another emotionally during a crisis. I don't necessarily believe in miracles. I don't believe that our time here is what it's all about, that we live, die and are buried--end of story. I don't believe that our kids should commit suicide. But I do believe in death with dignity, as in the case of Brittany Maynard, who took her own life before a brain tumor could. I think we have souls. 

I'll never forget the play, Waiting for Godot. I read it in high school when I was incredibly young, sheltered and niave despite my parents' pending divorce. When I learned about existentialism, I felt bereft, suddenly alone, apart from everyone else. I had always felt different from others, always felt that I had an unknown-to-me meaning in life, but I wasn't ready to be alone in my own world. As Jews, we wait for the Messiah. Will we always be waiting for something better?

When I was in college, studying psychology, I took a class in which we learned about out-of-the-body experiences and near-death experiences. Although these ideas frightened me, they also were affirming. I refused to read the instruction manual for I feared that it would lead to such an out-of-control experience! But this knowledge did create a belief in me that our souls were linked to our physical bodies...and that someday, our souls would survive even though our bodies did not.

I still question the purpose of suffering in our own world. My dog has a happier life. He's fed, given water, a bed, love, heat in the winter, cool air in the summer, toys, more love. It's so much harder to be human.

Years ago, when I was reading a great deal about the Holocaust, I wondered where G-d had been during all this time. I recall reading a line that stated that if we stopped believing in G-d because of the Holocaust, then we had permitted Hitler to win. I won't let him win, but I also don't believe in an all-powerful G-d who watches out for each one of us. I don't believe in a vengeful G-d. In fact, I don't know that an all powerful G-d would actually have anger at all. But sadness? 

Perhaps I am doing it all wrong? I can learn from Victor Frankl, who wrote in Man's Search for Meaning, "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

He also writes that, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

As much as I love my family members, I cannot allow myself to be brought down by the trials that plague us. I can learn from Buddhism if I make the time and effort. I can accept that pain is in our lives and stop fighting and questioning it. I can lead the best moral life possible and support others, meanwhile, finding happinesses along the way. I can release the leashes that bind me to yesterday and the webs that glue me to worries about tomorrow. I can enjoy each and every hug, the compliments for a dinner made (they don't always like what I cook,) my 14-year old calling me "Mommy" instead of "Mom," my 12 year old wanting me to lie down next to her and talk before she falls asleep. I must choose to live in the moment (while making plans to help my family) in the future.

Today, my walking buddy said that she had once read that perhaps suffering is the element that helps us to survive. If we're dealing with a Survival of the Fittest, it will be the people who suffer and make it through who endure. When she teaches her religion class or when her own children complain that something isn't fair, she shares with her students that all "have their own cross to bear." Despite different religions, we all search for meanings from our suffering. 

So, how does that translate to today--to me, to my family? Yes, times are rough but we do have family members who support us in a multitude of ways. We have friends who are gems. We have quiet moments and love despite the challenges. Perhaps we will never heal everyone. Perhaps we won't come out of our enormous financial debts. Perhaps I won't be able to afford to repair the once glorious dining room chairs that are breaking, one by one. But for this one moment, while I write away, my family is content, and I savor the tranquility. Don't remember, don't think ahead. Savor the moment. 

And then figure out what else we can do to get back on track!


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