“God is good”, you hear people say when things go their way, as though this mythological entity of questionable existence has allegedly made the decision to intervene and bestow moments of goodness in the lives of a blessed, chosen few. I don’t believe that God exists, but if I did, I would probably agree with my late mother, who – robbed by ALS of her ability to speak or eat – confided in me last year (using a text-to-speech app on the iPad that never left her side) that she believed in God, but that she did not believe he was benevolent. Less than six weeks later, she was gone – taken not by the ALS, but rather by an exceptionally aggressive bout with ovarian cancer that took us all by surprise and turned our world upside down.
It is difficult for me to accept the notion of a deity who may be charitably benevolent under extraordinarily mundane circumstances, while denying that same benevolence to others – even when lives are at stake. How can your God be good if he is seemingly charitable on a whim, yet indifferent – sometimes brutally – to suffering? If God existed, why would he rally behind you to ensure that you get something relatively trivial, while at the same time suddenly take the life of a father of three young children, a father who lost his own father only two weeks earlier? What kind of “good” God does something like that?
Your God is not good when refugees are suspiciously seen as terrorists instead of victims of war.
Your God is not good when hate so often seems to be on the verge of trumping love, when there are those who judge people by the color of their skin, their religion, their country of origin or their sexual orientation.
Your God is not good when he drowns a family in grief and then plunges them in even deeper, or when he seals a woman’s fate with one terrifyingly crushing disease but destroys her with another.
And do not speak to me of your God’s master plan or tell me that everything happens for a reason, for I can think of no valid reason for your God to wreak such havoc and devastation. I can think of no sane reason for children to suffer the heart-shattering loss of their father while grieving the loss of their grandfather, or for their grandmother to bury her husband and son within two weeks of one another. I find no comfort in master plans of bilious darkness or senseless loss, in destructive chaos and stolen innocence. If there is a comfort to be found, it is in the beauty of selfless deeds and acts of kindness; it is in the love we share and the space we hold for others in times of need – or in the space they hold for us.
If your God was truly good, I would like to think that he would not be so selective in his benevolence. I believe in benevolence, but I do not believe in God. Instead, I choose the tangible goodness of friends, loved ones and strangers. It is these blessed beings who truly accompany us during our journey, celebrating our joys and supporting us through our sorrows, helping to collect the shards of broken lives strewn about amidst a clutter of unanswered prayers.
I believe in magic. Not those trippy, sleight-of-hand illusions that tap into your inner child and leave your eyes feeling scrambled with wonder. I believe in the magic that happens when you get together with an assortment of individuals from your past, and a collective joy emerges that is so much greater than anything you imagined it could be – especially when the emotions you felt prior to the meetup were a quirky mix of excitement, curiosity and trepidation (accompanied by a soupçon of nausea). Why the trepidation, you ask? Well, even though you’re no longer that quiet, socially awkward teenager with questionable fashion sense (because the 80s made you do it), it seems that you still haven’t managed to completely rid yourself of those last remaining shreds of self-conscious, teenage angst.
But you allow the excited, curious bits to take control, and suddenly find yourself registering for your 30th high school reunion. You’ve been reconnecting online with your former classmates for years, and if you happen to be an introvert like I am, maybe platforms like Facebook have allowed you to create a comfort zone that lets you put your personality on display in ways you never dreamed possible. The confidence you lacked back in the day – when you were sure that EVERYONE had more than you did – has finally taken root. You know who you are and you like the person you’ve become, and you love the idea of reconnecting in real life.
So you subject yourself to a marginally invasive full-body pat-down (because security theater) and wedge yourself into a cramped airplane seat, hoping your seatmate won’t be a chatty armrest usurper while quietly, fervently praying to the airline gods for no seatmate at all. If you’re like me, you’re on a transatlantic flight or two, because you really are crazy enough to fly in for a week just so that you can spend a few days with your old high school pals – and make a few new ones – in and around your old hometown.
Despite the fact that it’s such a cliché, you’ve got a sweet selection of John Hughes movie soundtracks playing on a loop inside your head as the reunion draws closer. You’re staying with a dear friend you’ve known since first grade, and you spend the afternoon catching up and gossiping before digging through your suitcase for something suitable to wear. You take one last look in the mirror to make sure your hair is doing that wavy thing you like, and it’s off to the pub you go.
You arrive a little early, and when you step inside, you see that others had the same idea. The setting sun plays games with your eyesight, casting shadows and dancing rays of light around the classmates who greet all newcomers with whoops of joy. You squint against the glare as hugs are exchanged – sometimes with people you barely spoke to back in your high school days, but now it’s all good. The years have softened the memories and made us all nostalgic, and the lines that once separated us into distinct social groups are blurred beyond recognition. Thanks to social media, you can skip much of the preliminary “getting reacquainted” stage and jump straight into the fray.
A private room has been set aside for the Niskayuna High School class of ’86, and one of your former classmates generously turns the cash bar into an open bar by setting up a running tab for all. Drinks in hand, everyone works the room, moving from group to group to catch up and marvel at how amazing we all seem to look, because apparently, none of us have aged at all and everyone looks even better than they did 30 years ago. Despite the proximity of the bar and the privacy, though, there’s a gradual move to the crowded outdoor patio. The room is stifling and your friends question the wisdom of a closed space with insufficient cooling for a large group of perimenopausal women in their late 40s. Jostling with others for a good spot in front of a fan in the corner while beads of sweat form on your forehead and in the small of your back, you’re inclined to agree.
At some point, you start to yawn and your friend seizes the opportunity to tell everyone that you’re still battling jet lag. You tear yourselves away and collapse into her car, rehashing the evening while driving through the dark, quiet streets of your childhood. You later find out that many people stayed until the 2am closing time and then moved on to Denny’s, and are seriously impressed by their fortitude, if not their choice of venue.
The next evening, after a leisurely afternoon spent in the pool drinking sangria and homemade limoncello (and marveling at the appropriateness of the Oreo flavors paired with each – Annette knows you well and it shows), you head out once again for the second official event. You talk, laugh and drink until the restaurant closes and throws you all out, at which point you move en masse to the pub from the previous evening, stopping by the car to change your shoes and drop off the bottle of locally produced wine that Lisa gave you as a gift (because she knows you love wine, and also because she’s clearly awesome and thoughtful).
Tonight you stay until the end, until the gruff-looking bouncer with the loudest voice you’ve ever heard (who surprises you with a gentle smile when you jokingly ask him if he’s going to yell again) announces that the bar is closing and everyone has to leave. We are drunk and sober and every shade of tipsy in-between, leaning into one another and against each other as we shuffle towards the door. We are makers of magic, a magic that follows us outside to the parking lot, where we cling together for as long as possible and then some. Nobody wants to break the spell this weekend has cast on us, and we linger for long moments before splitting up to go our separate ways.
Two days later, the trip is over. Airports make you teary-eyed and this visit is no exception. To pass the time until your flight, you keep checking Facebook because your classmates are still posting about the reunion. You’re finally able to the board the plane, and blink back tears while quickly writing one last update, clicking “Post” just after the plane doors close. Your mind is still on the reunion and you feel like you’ve left a piece of your heart behind. But you’re okay with that. After all, the missing piece has been replaced by magic.
Photo courtesy of Annette Wertalik-Collins
On February 29th, my mother passed away following a brief battle with ovarian cancer. This is the eulogy I wrote, which was read during the memorial service by my parents’ rabbi.
There is something surreal in preparing for a journey whose sole purpose revolves around saying goodbye to one’s parent. My father and Josh called, and Dad prefaced our discussion by asking if Yogev was within earshot. I quickly entered the bedroom and closed the door behind me, sinking down on the bed as my mind began to race, processing the words I was hearing – “Mom”, “cancer”, “back”, “aggressive”, “hospice”… No one could say how much time was left. Days? Weeks? A month or more? As a family, we agonized. Tickets were purchased, and as I tried to pack for a month’s stay in Sarasota, it dawned on me that I needed to pack something to wear to a funeral. Not only that, but I also had to remind Danny that when he’d start packing for himself and Yogev, he would have to do the same for them.
And with all of this going on, I was in turmoil and I was heartbroken. My mom was dying. My mom, who had spent the last two years battling a slowly progressing case of ALS, was given the opportunity to avoid being utterly ravaged by one monstrous disease in favor of a different one that would take her more quickly and relatively more mercifully. She grabbed it, and I understood completely. After nearly 76 years of life, she made the brave choice of one tragic death over another.
And what a life it was! A wonderful husband, amazing children – in my opinion, anyway – and incredible, beautiful grandchildren – and that’s a fact.
When I think about my mom’s role in my childhood, it makes me smile. She was the one who spent hours throwing a baseball back and forth with me in the street on Rosehill Blvd, at a time when it was still a dead end and there were very few cars to disturb us. Together, we spent hours and hours at the public library downtown, happily staggering out with armloads of books. She organized the most creative birthday parties and made the best Halloween costumes. One year, at the height of the first Star Wars craze back in the late 70s, my mom even turned me into R2-D2 – a tradition we’ve managed to carry into the present as Yogev prepares to dress up as Kylo Ren for Purim this year, after dressing as Anakin Skywalker last year. Clearly, the force is strong in our family…
I moved to Israel shortly before marrying Danny, and we usually saw my parents twice a year for several weeks at a time. Before Yogev was born, they started coming to Israel less frequently because the trip was a difficult one. Once he came along, though, they began to make annual visits again – which they did until my mother was diagnosed with ALS.
Yogev loved spending time with his grandparents – and they with him. Spending time with Grandma meant art projects, fun activities and outings – everything from sculpting side-by-side in sculpture class, to line dancing across the living room, to Easter egg hunts in Sarasota whenever Passover vacation conveniently coincided with Easter, and so much more. Hands down, though, our absolute favorite activity to do with my mom was puppy hugging at the Southeastern Guide Dogs facility just north of Sarasota. My mom always loved dogs, and passed this love down to me. I, in turn, passed it on to Yogev. We LOVED going puppy hugging. Yogev and I would happily join the circle of people sitting on the floor while Mom and Dad would sit on a nearby bench. Mom and Dad got it right though, for while we would sit there trying to entice each puppy to play as they ran and tumbled around us in a blur, kindly volunteers would inevitably bring a puppy or two over to my parents so they could get some quality puppy time as well – without having to work for it at all!
Nearly every item of clothing I’ve purchased over the years was tried on and acquired with my mother by my side. Every visit to Sarasota (and to Schenectady before that) always involved several outings for shopping, which sometimes resulted in a look of disbelief from my father as we’d walk into the house, arms laden with shopping bags. For him, shopping always meant that when you needed something specific, you’d go to the store, find what you were looking for, buy it and come home. Mom and I would roll our eyes when Dad would ask what we were going to shop for and head out. And while I know that shopping may sound like a rather mundane, unexciting activity, those were also the times that allowed us to have our one-on-one conversations. Those moments comprised such a big part of the quality time we shared, and it’s going to be so strange to visit those same shops on my own. I’ll do it though. Not only because I know she’d want me to keep doing something that we enjoyed doing together; I’m also reasonably certain that the last thing she’d want would be for me to have to walk around without any clothes, so… Right, Mom?
And now, all of a sudden. It’s all come to a screeching halt. There will be no more Easter egg hunts and no more sculpture classes. No more line dancing across the living room filled with your artwork. No more shopping together or visits to the theater. There will be an empty space on the bench when we go puppy hugging – which we will, of course, continue to do. But most of all, there will be no more pain for you, and that’s the most important thing. The only wish I’ve made on every first star in the sky has finally come true – you’re finally free from all the pain and suffering of the past two years. Danny, Yogev and I love you so much, Mom, and we’re really going to miss you.
When you’re traveling…
And the drive to the airport takes almost two hours instead of one…
And the airline (American Airlines) you’re traveling with for a 40-minute flight as a result of code-sharing charges you $100 for a bag that is supposed to be free…
And the same agent (erroneously) claims she can only check your three bags as far as London on the grounds that your 12-hr and 15-minute layover exceeds the 12-hour limit (which doesn’t actually exist), even though you specifically contacted the airline months ago in order to verify that bags could be checked all the way to Tel Aviv…
And the British Airways agent in Miami reassures you that you will receive reimbursement for the baggage charge…
And tells you that you should have been able to check your bags all the way through to Tel Aviv, and while he can’t get them retagged in Miami, lets you know that the bags can be either rechecked or stored at the airport in London…
And while you can store all three bags (for a fee) in either terminal, there is no mechanism in place for having the bags transferred between terminals, so you make the decision to store them in Terminal 3, instead of wasting even more precious time…
And you regretfully inform your son that while you can definitely still make it to the 14:00 (2pm) Harry Potter studio tour (for which you purchased non-refundable tickets months ago, after verifying with the airline that bags could be checked all the way through to Tel Aviv) by taking an hour-long bus ride from the airport to a station called Watford Junction, there won’t be any time to make the journey via London itself in order to stop at King’s Cross and see “Platform 9 3/4”…
And he gets teary-eyed and cries a little, from the schedule change as much as the stress…
And you get teary-eyed too, for the same reasons…
And the bus (which runs only once per hour) leaves Heathrow a little late, causing you to miss the free shuttle (which runs every 20 minutes or so) you needed in order to reach the studio on time…
And the friendly woman with whom you chatted while waiting for the bus is traveling to the same station, and saves the day by offering you and your excited-but-weary son a ride to the studio, because she lives right across the street…
And because she believes it’s the right thing to do (especially given our circumstances) and that she would hope that someone would do the same for her…
And as she’s telling you about the area through which you’re driving and sharing interesting stories about what it’s like to live across the street from the still-active Warner Brothers Studio, it starts to rain…
And as you’re getting out of the car and thanking her profusely for her kindness and her stories, she asks if you need an umbrella – just in case…
And as you and your excited 11 year-old-son walk up to the studio ticket window to retrieve your tickets (with plenty of time to spare), you answer his questions about strangers and kindness, and agree with him that some people really are very nice…
And then you enter the magical world of Harry Potter, temporarily banishing from your mind the trials, tribulations and stress of the previous 17 hours and the concerns about three big suitcases sitting somewhere in Terminal 3…
The road we traveled to bring our son into the world was long and painful. There were several pregnancies during which fetal anomalies were discovered, and one that ended with the birth of our first son in the 26th week of pregnancy – a preemie born very small with birth defects who managed to survive for just over six months. During those nine years of failed pregnancies, endless tests, hope and despair, I tried to understand how all of this happened to us. The doctors didn’t know what to tell us, and the geneticist that joined my circle still hasn’t managed to connect all of the anomalies – including those with which I was born, rare defects that were fixed in the months following my own birth.
During my first pregnancy, when I was still innocent, inexperienced and not terribly knowledgeable, the detection of a grave defect was explained as bad luck that probably wouldn’t happen again. We painfully accepted this and continued to try. We were less naïve and more cautious, but still believed that everything was behind us. With the discovery of other defects in each of the subsequent pregnancies, my frustration increased. I chased after answers and explanations with no success, and in a moment of crisis, when it seemed that wherever I looked, women all around me managed to get pregnant and give birth to healthy children, I started to look at my situation from a different angle.
My geneticist tried to convince me that even though she hadn’t succeeded in understanding what caused of all the problems we were having, she could tell us that despite the fact that different defects had been found in all of my pregnancies (aside from the last one, of course, which resulted in the birth of our now 11-year-old son), that there was no medical explanation – we simply kept falling on the wrong side of the statistics in a very drastic way. In other words, it was all a matter of luck, and in our case, this luck had been horrible.
So how did we deal with such news, that even though I did everything I was told to do, that I was cautious and careful (and more than a little worried), something went wrong time after time? I turned into something of a genetic and medical expert as I tried to find even a small clue that would hopefully lead to more meaningful one, without much success. I became familiar with all the right websites and pressured my geneticist to find different tests and speak to as many experts as possible in our quest for answers (though there wasn’t a need for too much pressure – she was just as curious as I was).
Friends and acquaintances talked to me about plans and God, and tried to comfort me by saying that everything was in accordance with his plan – a plan that I didn’t necessarily need to know about. It was hard for me to accept this, even though there were moments when I began to think about my experiences and the chances of experiencing so many tragic coincidences. It’s hard for me to believe that there’s some sort of plan whereby I was supposed to suffer loss after loss, and each instance joined a seemingly endless succession of physical and emotional pain. It was inconceivable. I don’t believe in God, but even if I did, I couldn’t believe that he would actually choose me to go through so much anguish. And even more than this, I wasn’t ready to accept that God had plans for all of my unborn children, or for my prematurely born first son, who never spent even one night outside of hospitals, who knew only the suffering of operations and tests. Who would create such a nightmarish plan for such a tiny, fragile baby? Why the hell were we chosen for such plans? I absolutely refused to accept this option.
My anger was mixed with feelings of guilt and I wondered what I’d done in my lifetime (or in earlier lifetimes) to end up in this situation. I was sure that I must have done terrible things in a previous incarnation (even though I still haven’t decided whether or not I believe in reincarnation…), things that somehow justified what we’d been through. But there was no medical explanation, and it was hard for me to process the bad “luck” that hit us every time I’d managed to get pregnant.
I wasn’t ready to accept that this was my destiny. Why did we have to endure these tests, this suffering? There are those who say that God doesn’t give people more than they can handle, and this was something I heard more than once from individuals I met along my journey, apparently intended as words of comfort. But for me, however, it was no comfort at all. I didn’t want tests, and saw it as being a bit sickening, to be honest. It was as though God wanted to fling me into hell and see how I dealt with it – because he knew that I was capable of getting through it and not falling along the way. Why me? Why did I need to go through this again and again? And it’s not that I want to see others going through it instead of me. God forbid. I wouldn’t wish this fate on anyone.
Following four unsuccessful pregnancies and years of despair and frustration, we discovered that I was pregnant again. To say that it was a high-risk pregnancy would be an understatement. Under the guidance of my geneticist, I underwent every possible test. We ruled out all of the defects that had been found in the previous pregnancies and dealt with problems like gestational diabetes and others that I won’t bore you with here. I was made to stay home from the 16th week, and in week 39 (one week before my own birthday), I gave birth to a healthy little boy. As a final “test”, I almost died shortly after giving birth, but the amazing, talented doctors surrounding me saved my life – and it’s good that they did, since I don’t think I would have been able to successfully deal with such a definitive, final test.
And today, eleven years later, I look at my son and feel so incredibly blessed, as if I’ve won the lottery. I suppose it’s possible to say that our persistence brought us to these moments, and that if we hadn’t succeeded in handling everything that came before, we wouldn’t have gotten so lucky in the end. When I look back over our journey, I still can’t accept the explanations about divine plans or targeted “endurance” tests. What I can accept is that everything we’ve been through turned me into the person I am today. I know that I can cope with a lot of pain, and that I’m capable of pulling myself out of the darkness. Sometimes, I allow myself to believe in destiny; if there’s something I really want even though the chances are slim, I can convince myself and calm myself down with the thought that if something is supposed to happen, it will, and if not – it won’t.
And if we say that there are plans, tests and some sort of fate and karma, and the result of this is that we were granted the privilege of raising a boy who surprises and impresses (and sometimes also tests) me every day, a boy of whom I’m so proud, then I can try to accept it – if it’s my destiny to do so.
דרכינו להביא את הבן שלנו לעולם הייתה ארוכה וכואבת. היו כמה הריוניות שנתגלו בהם מומים, ואחד שהסתיים עם לידת הבן הראשון שלנו בשבוע 26, תינוק שנולד קטן מאוד עם מומים, שבכל זאת הצליח לחיות קצת יותר מחצי שנה. בתשעה שנים האלו של הריונות נכשלים, בדיקות אינסופיות, תקווה וייאוש, ניסיתי להבין מאיפה זה נחת עלינו. הרופאים לא ידעו להסביר לנו, והגנטיקאית שהצטרפה למעגל שלי לא מצליחה עד היום לחבר בין כל המומים השונים – כולל את אלה שאני נולדתי איתם, מומים נדירים שתוקנו בחודשים אחרי שנולדתי.
בהריון הראשון שלי, כשעוד הייתי תמימה וחסרת נסיון וידע, גילוי המום החמור הוסבר כמזל רע שסביר להניח לא יחזור על עצמו. קיבלנו את זה בכאב והמשכנו לנסות. היינו פחות נאיבים ויותר זהירים, אבל האמנו שהכל מאחורינו. עם התגלותם של המומים האחרים בהריונות הבאים, הוגבר רמת התסכול. רדפתי אחרי תשובות והסברים ולא מצאתי, וברגעי משבר, שהיה נדמה שכל כך הרבה נשים סביבי נכנסו להריון והצליחו ללדת ילדים בריאים, התחלתי לחשוב על מצבי מזווית אחרת.
הגנטקאית שלי ניסתה לשכנע אותי שאפילו שלא הצליחה להבין מה הגורם לכל הבעיות, מה שהיא כן ידעה להגיד לי הוא שלמרות שהתגלו מומים בכל הריונותי (חוץ מהאחרון, כמובן, שממנו הגיע אלינו את יוגב), לא הייתה לזה שום הסבר רפואי – פשוט נפלנו בצד הלא נכון של הסטטיסטיקה באופן חריג. כלומר, הכל עניין של מזל, ובמקרה שלנו, המזל הזה היה רע מאוד.
אז איך מתמודדים עם בשורות כאלה, שלמרות שביצעתי את כל מה שנאמר לי לעשות, שנזהרתי ושמרתי (ודאגתי לא מעט), משהו חדש התפקשש פעם אחר פעם? הפכתי לסוג של מומחית בגנטיקה ורפואה כשניסיתי למצוא אפילו רמז קטן שיוכל להוביל לרמז יותר משמעותי, אבל ללא הצלחה של ממש. הכרתי את כל האתרי אינטרנט הנכונים ולחצתי על הגנטיקאית שלי (אבל לא היה צורך ליותר מדי לחץ – המקרה שלי סקרן אותה לא פחות) למצוא בדיקות אחרות ולדבר עם כמה שיותר מומחים אחרים ברדיפה שלנו אחרי תשובות.
חברים ומכרים דיברו איתי על תוכניות ואלוהים, וניסו לנחם אותי בזה שהכל הולך לפי התוכנית שלו – תוכנית שלאו דווקא עלי לדעת מהי. היה לי קשה לקבל את זה, למרות שברגעים מסוימים, התחלתי לחשוב על החוויות שלי ואת הסיכויים של כל כך הרבה צירופי מקרים טרגיים. קשה לי להאמין שיש איזושהי תוכנית שלפיה אני אמורה לסבול אבדן אחרי אבדן, שכל מקרה מצטרף לשורה אינסופית של כאב פיזי ונפשי. זה פשוט נהיתה אפשרות בלתי נתפסת. אני לא מאמינה באלוהים, אבל אפילו אם כן הייתי מאמינה, לא יכולתי להאמין שהוא דווקא בחר בי לעבור את כל הכאב הזה. ואפילו יותר מזה, לא הייתי מוכנה לקבל את זה שלאלוהים היו תוכניות לכל הילדים שלי שלא הצליחו להיוולד, או לבן שלי שנולד כפג, ילד שלא יצא אפילו ללילה אחת מבתי החולים, שידע רק סבל של ניתוחים ובדיקות? מי היה מפיק תוכנית כזאת סיוטית עבור תינוק כל כך קטן ושביר? למה, לעזעזל, אנחנו נבחרנו לתוכניות האלה? סירבתי בתוקף לקבל את האופציה הזאת.
הכעס שלי התערבב עם רגשי אשמה ותהיתי מה עשיתי בחיים האלה (או בחיים קודמים) כדי להגיע למצב ההוא. הייתי בטוחה שעשיתי דברים נוראים בגלגול הקודם (למרות שאני עדיין לא החלטתי אם אני מאמינה בחיים קודמים…), דברים שאיכשהו הצדיקו את מה שעברנו. אבל לא נמצא הסבר רפואי, והיה לי קשה לעכל את ה”מזל” הרע שהיכה בנו כל פעם שהצלחתי להכנס להריון.
לא הייתי מוכנה לקבל כמובן מעליו שזה הגורל שלי. למה עלינו לעבור את כל המבחנים האלה, את כל הסבל? יש אנשים שאומרים שאלוהים לא ייתן לבן אדם להתמודד מעבר ליכולות שלו, ושמעתי את זה יותר מפעם אחת מאנשים שהכרתי לאורך המסע שלי, כנראה כסוג של נחמה. אבל אותי, זה בכלל לא ניחם. לא רציתי מבחנים, וראיתי את זה כדבר קצת חולני, למען האמת. כאילו שאלוהים רוצה לזרוק אותי למין גיהינום ולראות אותי מתמודד – כי הוא יודע שאני מסוגלת ושלא אפול בדרך. למה אותי? למה אני צריכה לעבור את זה שוב ושוב? וזה לא שאני רוצה לראות אנשים אחרים עוברים את זה במקומי. חס וחלילה. לא הייתי מאחלת את הגורל הזה על אף אחד.
אחרי ארבע הריונות ללא הצלחה ושנים של ייאוש ותסכול, גילינו שוב שאני בהריון. לומר שההריון היה בסיכון גבוה יהיה בלשון המעטה. תחת הניהול של הגנטיקאית שלי, עשיתי כל בדיקה אפשרית. שללנו את כל המומים שהתגלו בהריונות הקודמים והתמודדנו עם בעיות כמו סכרת הריון ואחרות שאחסוך לכם את תאורן, אז תצטרכו להסתפק ב”משהו לא כיף במיוחד”… הייתי בבית מהשבוע ה-16, ובשבוע 39 (שבוע לפני יום הולדתי), נולד לנו ילד קטן, בריא ושלם. כ”מבחן” האחרון, כמעט מתתי אם סיום התהליך, אבל הרופאים המקסימים ומוכשרים שהיו סביבי הצילו את חיי – וטוב שכך, כי לא נראה לי שהייתי מצליחה להתמודד עם מבחן כל כך סופי.
והיום, כעבור כמעט 11 שנים, אני מסתכלת על הבן שלי ומרגישה כל כך מבורכת, כאילו שזכיתי בלוטו. אני מניחה שאפשר להגיד שההתמדה שלנו הביא אותנו לרגעים האלה, ושאם לא היינו מצליחים לעמוד בכל מה שבא לפני כן, לא היינו זוכים כל כך בגדול. כשאני מתבוננת מאחורה בכל התהליך שעברנו, אני עדיין לא מקבלת את ההסברים על תוכניות אלוהיות או מבחני התמודדות ממוקדים. מה שאני כן מקבלת הוא שכל מה שעברנו הפך אותי למי שאני היום. הבנתי שאני יכולה להתמודד עם די הרבה כאב, ושאני מסוגלת להוציא את עצמי מהחושך. לפעמים, אני מרשה לעצמי להאמין בגורל, כלומר, אם יש משהו שאני מאוד רוצה למרות שהסיכויים לקבל אותו הם קלושים, אני אשכנע וארגיע את עצמי במחשבה שאם זה משהו שאמור לקרות, זה יקרה, ואם לא, אז לא.
ואם נגיד שבכל זאת יש תוכניות, מבחנים וסוג של גורל וקארמה, וכתוצאה מגורמים אלה זכינו בזכות לגדל ילד שמפתיע ומרשים (ולפעמים גם בוחן) אותי לטובה כל יום, ילד שבו אני גאה כל כך, אז אני מוכנה לנסות לקבל את זה – אם זה יהיה הגורל שלי.
בימים אחרים, הייתי כותבת את הטור שלי באנגלית ומעבירה אותו לתרגום. את הטור הזה, כתבתי ישר בעברית. התבקשתי על ידי העורכים שלי ב”אדם עולם“, המגזין של הקהילה האנתרופוסופית בישראל, להתייחס לנושא של הכשרות שקשורות לאנתרופוסופיה: הכשרות חינוך, רופאים, מחנכים וכדומה. פשוט, נכון? זהו, שלא כל כך. ועוד החלטתי שהפעם, אני מתכוונת לכתוב את הכל בעברית – פעולה מאתגרת ומתסכלת.
אבל כנראה שכל האימיילים והפוסטים שהכרחתי את עצמי לכתוב בעברית בשנים האחרונות – לפעמים עם עזרה ולפעמים בלי – עשו את שלהם, כי משום מה, הצלחתי. יפה, לא? אינני רוצה להגיד שזה היה ממש באופן מפתיע, כי תכלס, בשלב זה הרגשתי מספיק בטוחה ביכולות שלי לפחות לנסות, וכמישהי שכותבת אופן מקצועית (אומנם בשפה אחרת), אני תמיד רודפת אחרי אתגרי כתיבה. למזלי, האתגר הזה מצא אותי, וזה מה שיצא.
Woven through the stories and the summers of our youth
Your laughter threaded through the soundtrack of our days
And nights spent in the camp that hugged the Delaware
Where slivers of our hearts will always stay
They say time flies too fast, my friend, and I believe it’s true
For it seems like only yesterday I first laid eyes on you
Or maybe just this morning, not so very long ago
So tell me how the hell are we supposed to let you go
I’ll remember you with laughter and I’ll think of you with joy
Of long-forgotten moments when you were just a boy
While sifting through the memories that span across the years
Of words sent over miles where you shared your hopes and fears
Now I’m sitting here in sadness ‘cause I can’t believe you’re gone
It shouldn’t have to end this way – it seems so very wrong
As I listen to the songs we’ll never hear you sing again
My smile slowly drowns in tears with thoughts of you, my friend
Quintessential Dave, who always made us laugh:
In memory of Dave Alpert, who left this world way too soon…
Links to Dave’s music:
During a work outing several years ago, my colleagues and I were given an opportunity to make ocarinas out of clay. While the others created instruments that looked like delightful sea creatures, dragons and other fictitious members of the animal kingdom, I suspiciously stared down at my lump of clay without coming up with a single idea. In the end, I created a simple, goofy smiley face on one side, and on the other, I wrote “My talents lie elsewhere”, since when it comes to envisioning and creating my own piece of artwork, I’m utterly and unapologetically hopeless.
That’s not to say that I don’t love art however, for I do – it often brings me great joy. I can, quite happily, spend hours wandering aimlessly through art exhibitions and galleries, and the genre of naïve art (discovered after I visited a naïve art gallery in Tel Aviv for an article I was writing) seems to reach into my soul and make my heart race with emotion. It touches me in ways that I simply cannot describe. I love the colors, the detailed intricacies woven into every scene that invite me to stop in my tracks and stare in open-mouthed wonder…
And now I’m going to let you in on a little secret. (more…)
You don’t talk
Or catch my eye
As I walk by
Cross the street
Change your path
I don’t exist
Erase the past
One by one
Destroy them all
Until it’s done
Forget that we
Were ever friends
I don’t exist
It’s all pretend
Lives and souls
That never touched
Laughed so much
Love and trust
I don’t exist
It breaks my heart
Picture created by Talya Shachar-Albocher