While rifling through some drawers in our guest room, I found the printout of what I wrote nearly 17 years ago, after receiving the news that my grandmother had passed away. I didn’t fly to the US for the funeral, and instead, wrote the essay below to be read aloud during the service. Anything written in italics is information I’ve added to clarify different points, and the only other changes I’ve made were to remove the names of family members.
Growing up as the granddaughter of Millie Sobel was something special. As the only girl of the four grandchildren, I always felt that somehow I was just a bit more precious than the other three, even though I knew deep down that this could not be so, as we were all equally loved and cherished.
I can still remember what a treat it was when we would all get in the car to go to “Grandma’s House”. Strangely enough, almost all of my memories revolve around food. Breakfast was always an occasion, as we were allowed to eat all of those wretched, pre-sweetened cereals; My brother and I were always fighting over who would get which cereal, reserving them days in advance, just to make sure that we would each get what we wanted. Grandma was always such a wonderful cook; to this day I can still recall her spaghetti and meatballs, her stuffed cabbage, her latkes and her French toast, which I could never seem to get enough of. Memories of dining out are not quite as vivid, though I’m certain that it was all of those trips to Lundy’s that gave me my love for seafood, or trips to Cooky’s (at Kings Plaza, in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY), where we would all order dinner and have just a few bites, making sure that there would be enough room for their legendary dessert bar.by Liza Rosenberg
I send you off to school today, my precious little boy
Hand-in-hand we reach the gate – trepidation mixed with joy
I hold you close and kiss your hair before I say goodbye
And hope that you won’t see the tears that slowly fill my eyes
I wish you well in school today, my precious little boy
An adventure to embark upon; a journey to enjoy
I know it may be tough at times; I know you might be scared
But I’ll be there to guide you through; to help you be prepared
I filled your bag with dreams today, my precious little boy
For you to use – to pick and choose, to keep among your toys
Your dreams can lead you anywhere; don’t be afraid to go
To find the ones that touch your heart and set it all aglow
So study hard and dare to dream; be all that you can be
It’s up to you to choose your path; whatever sets you free
I want you to be happy; to do what brings you joy
And this is all I seek for you, my precious little boy
Sometimes, life isn’t so great. You get bogged down in the negatives and lose sight of the good stuff – the stuff that makes you smile. And, while I’m not trying to minimize the negatives (and these days, there are more than a few, what with a friend being very sick, political and environmental disasters that are seemingly at every turn, a difficult job market, etc.), perhaps taking some time to focus on the positives will help take you to a better place. That’s why I’ve decided to take up a challenge – one that I will also pass on to you. But more on that later…
Fabulously talented author Isabel Losada (you really must read her books if you haven’t – even my son thinks she’s wonderful 😉 ) wrote a book entitled 100 Reasons to Be Glad, and as she shares her own list, she challenges readers to come up with their own. And because you know I simply can’t resist a challenge – especially one as interesting as this one, let’s see what I can come up with (in no particular order, of course).
My 100 reasons to be glad: (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
Tears of sadness; tears of joy
As I watch my little boy
Turn the page and start anew
Rites of passage all too soon
His future’s tangled in the past
A song connecting first and last
Brothers who will never meet
Connected by a song so sweet
I think of then and think of now; I wipe the tears that fall
For all that’s lost and all that’s found – I think about it all
I watch the little boy grow up – no prouder could I be
And through these rites of passage, he sets the other free
Every year in the days leading up to my birthday, I enter a period of self-reflection. I look back on the events of the past year and think about how they may have reshaped my life. In the years before we had our son (who arrived just over a week before my birthday back in 2004), I would often see my birthday as a milestone that marked another year of failing to achieve our goal of having a child, and of course, everything else just seemed to pale in comparison. These last six years with my son have been a gift that knows no bounds, and every birthday celebration of mine is now intertwined with the joy that his birth has brought me.
But I digress. The past year has been interesting, to say the least. I went from having two part-time positions in technical writing to becoming a full-time freelancer, having successfully managed to lose both jobs within weeks of one another. I’m certainly enjoying the variety that being a freelancer brings, not to mention the freedom to make my own schedule and do more of the writing that I actually enjoy (such as the pleasure I derive from writing poetry – a relatively new hobby, or the essays I submit to various anthologies); it also means that I have to work harder to ensure that I include social interaction with others. Of course, whatever my gripes might be with this new situation, it’s still infinitely better than my life before, when I was coming home every evening at 7:30, miserable and unable to find a satisfactory home-work balance. Now, my office consists of the corner of our blue, L-shaped couch (which is now at least several centimeters lower than every other part of the couch), and I’m trying to figure out which cappuccino maker to purchase (suggestions are welcome!), given that good coffee is missing from my life these days almost as much as good opportunities for social interaction. And, while I currently have a rather healthy load of writing projects, I’m always on the lookout for more, so feel free to give a shout if you think you’ve got something I might be interested in (end of professional plug). (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
The little boy – he’s six today; oh how the time does fly
The days that pass so quickly; the months that just rush by
Even now, I gaze in awe, unable to believe
The little boy in front of me, tugging at my sleeve
I take him in my arms, this little boy of mine
As I pull him close, his eyes begin to shine
A swirling of emotions; they take me by surprise
Overcome by love, and tears that prick my eyes
Less than seven years ago, we thought the dream had died
We thought we’d reached a journey’s end and God knows how we tried
But then somehow against all odds we managed to succeed
And suddenly “we two”, had turned into “we three”
To say my heart would burst – it sounds like a cliché
Mere words seem so inept for what I want to say
A thousand dreams could not foretell the love I’d find within
A thousand lights would pale, if held against your grin
And so my little boy, I wish the world for you
Your every heart’s desire, your every dream come true
And all I ask of you, my child, is hold me in your heart
Whenever we’re together; whenever we’re apart
It’s amazing how memories are frozen in your mind; how specific moments surrounding an incident are remembered so clearly. Eleven years ago tomorrow (January 20th), we lost our first son. While much of that time remains a blur, there are certain things I haven’t forgotten – random acts of kindness, random events, random thoughts that crossed my mind…
Random acts of kindness…
I’m guessing there were others – there’s no way I could have gotten through that darkest period of my life without the people around me. I’m not quite sure what I did to deserve such amazing friends, but thank you all.
I’ve probably blocked out many of the memories from that time, and of course, there others that are too painful to talk about. Here are just a few random events I feel I can share, though I must admit that I’m not sure why some of these are easier than others…
Random thoughts and feelings…
I cannot believe that eleven years have passed, nor can I believe all that’s happened since. I am in awe of the journey that we’ve been on and of those who chose to accompany us along the way. I cannot find the words I need to appropriately thank you for all you’ve done, but I will say that often, there have been times that I would not have gotten through on my own, without you. And I am grateful.by Liza Rosenberg
Several weeks ago, I asked readers to, well, ask me anything. Some of the questions I received were serious, while others were of a lighter nature. The questions and answers are below. If you’ve got any more, ask away!
Do you ever think about moving back to the US with hubby and child, and why/why not? (Maria)
We’ve definitely thought about it, and even began to fill out the green card paperwork. Timing is everything, though, as the global economy started tanking, and we abandoned the idea, at least for the time being. Interestingly enough, as I started dealing with the paperwork, I also started questioning whether I truly wanted to go. Even when I think that day-to-day life would probably be easier there and that I’d be able to provide my son with so many opportunities that aren’t available in Israel, I’ve generally got a pretty decent life here. I’ve got amazing friends, and despite all the problems, I do love the country. Whenever I’m in the US, I think about how wonderful it would be to stay, yet once I’m back in Israel, I feel like this is where I want to be. I suppose I will always feel pulled in the other direction, no matter where I am.
Or maybe without hubby and/or child? 🙂 (Yoel)
Are you happy? Genuinely happy? (Mohamed)
To be honest, I don’t know. There are definitely people who/things that make me happy. My son makes me happy. My friends make me happy, though I wish some of them lived closer or that I could see them more frequently. Writing makes me happy. My profession doesn’t make me happy, but it’s not always easy to change when you have certain responsibilities. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have things that don’t frustrate me on a regular basis, and during the past six months or so, I’ve felt like I’m being pulled in different emotional directions. That being said, I’m mostly grateful for who and what I have in my life, even when I wish that some aspects could be different from what they are now.
Do you have any regrets – and what are they? (Helen)
One of my biggest regrets is professional. I wish I’d studied either journalism or taken some other writing-related path in university. Instead, I studied sociology which, while interesting, did nothing for me professionally. I came to Israel with no job experience, took jobs where native English was the main requirement (mainly administrative), and if I got lucky, the ability to write was considered an advantage.
I continued to gain work experience and move in certain professional directions, mostly because I could, though not necessarily out of any particular interest in the field. Today I feel trapped. It’s very frustrating to turn around in your late 30s and realize that you never should have denied yourself the chance to try to do what you love, and starting over from the scratch at age 41 in an area known for almost scandalously low pay is scary, especially when you have so many responsibilities. Now I’m constantly juggling, working full-time, writing when I can and trying to be the best mom I can be to my son. It’s not easy!
As for personal regrets… I’ve had a few…
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there, why do people talk about it anyway??? (Nicole)
Hmmm… Because they can? 🙂
What is your most embarrassing moment which involves Stephanie Freid? (Benji)
Not sure I’ve got one, Benji. What’s yours? 🙂 Stephanie, care to weigh in on this one?
What is the worst job interview you’ve ever had? What made it horrible? (Jill)
Tough question, Jill! I’ve had so many job interviews over the years. I can tell you about the type of job interview I hate the most, though. Whenever I’ve gone on a job interview, in addition to the obvious component of the interviewer trying to size up whether or not I’m a suitable addition to the company, I see it as my opportunity to assess whether or not the company is right for me. The interviewer should, while asking the important questions, also be doing his or her best to cast a positive light on the company for my sake, and I don’t always feel that happening. I’ve had far too many interviews where the interviewers do absolutely nothing to convince me that this is a place where I should want to work, and even interviews where I feel like the interviewer is almost purposely going out of their way to put me in a difficult spot. When this happens, even when I’m invited back, I decline and stop the process. I’ve done this on several occasions. I need to get a good vibe from the start, and if I don’t, well, it’s difficult to put my first impressions aside. Whenever I’ve avoided my gut instincts in these situations, I’ve usually regretted it later.
Which three historical figures do you most respect and admire? (Stephanie)
Wow, Stephanie. Tough one! One would have to be Golda Meir, not necessarily for her politics, but rather for the fact that she accomplished so much and managed to go farther in Israeli politics than any other woman has since then. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with others, but no single individual comes to mind. I have great admiration and respect for people who have effected positive change despite the obstacles placed before them, people like Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks, leaders in the feminist movement, the equal rights movement, civil rights leaders, etc. I’m also in awe of my paternal grandparents, who left Russia, made their way to Argentina, and eventually settled in the US. My grandfather escaped from the army, and at one point, my grandmother talked a firing squad out of killing him. I’m in awe.
What sort of stuff would you like to blog about more but don’t for whatever reason? (Aviv)
Hmmm… I’m not sure there’s too much that I’ve made a conscious effort not to write about, though I do make an effort to protect certain aspects of my private life. You won’t find blog posts about my work, as I believe that would be unethical (not to mention stupid, given that I don’t blog anonymously). I also tend to write more about my thoughts and opinions as opposed to my activities unless something special has happened. I just don’t think that my day-to-day life is blog fodder, and I’m not one of those “tell all” bloggers who’s prepared to expose everything that goes on in their lives to people they don’t know. Believe it or not, I’m far too private for that, not to mention far too shy.
I also tend write a lot less about politics and current events than I’ve done previously, though if something really bothers me, I’m probably going to rant about it here. Otherwise, I think I’m just burned out on that stuff, and can’t usually be bothered to summon up the energy to deal with it.
I love to write about my son, but I’m also very conscious of not wanting to be categorized as a “mommy blogger”, since there are other topics that I enjoy writing about as well.
Most of all, though, I wish I had the time and energy to blog as frequently as I once did. I keep hoping to get my groove back, and I’m really impressed by other bloggers who have also been blogging for years, yet still manage to maintain a certain level of frequency that I haven’t been able to do. Still, I’ve been writing this blog for four-and-a-half years now, so I suppose that’s also an accomplishment of sorts.by Liza Rosenberg
I place my fingers on his waist and lift him way up high
He flings his arms around my neck and looks me in the eye
“I love you”, says the little boy, solemn and sincere
Then suddenly his face lights up; he grins from ear to ear
A favorite song* begins to play; I’m shaken from my trance
The little boy looks up and asks, “Mommy, want to dance?”
He takes my hand in his, and then he hugs me tight
We move around in circles, swaying left and right
I hold him close, the little boy – my lips against his hair
Unable to contain my joy – an answer to a prayer
“I love you too,” I whisper, and kiss him on the head
He snuggles in my arms as I carry him to bed