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Posts from December 2009

A Loss, The Loss

My mother is sitting on the couch opposite me sewing up my younger daughter’s jacket, which is actually her sister’s old jacket. My younger daughter is sleeping, even though it is past noon. My older daughter is back in LA visiting her boyfriend after spending a few days with us. It would be a lovely tableau, except it is a very incomplete picture. My father is not sitting on the other end of either couch reading the Sports section because he passed away on Monday morning.

When I bought our tickets to fly down to Florida last week he was still at home; by the time my younger daughter and I arrived on Friday, he was in ICU waiting to be brought to hospice later that evening.

On Sunday his rabbi told us what a wise rabbi had once told him: at a certain point, you no longer pray for healing but for a peaceful journey. It appears that that is what he had. A peaceful journey for a man who was peaceful his entire life.

Both of his parents had emigrated from Russia with their families when they were young. There is one story of hiding in the back of a hay wagon. Who knows? No one talked of those adventures much. The focus was more on raising their three children, who in turn raised their children, who are now raising their children.

The wavy shock of my father’s red hair had rusted over the years and some on top was lost to two sessions of chemo. But his carrot-top days were still evident in back. As was his sweet tooth. He had not been able to eat for a few weeks due to his esophagael cancer (it was detected in late October), but while we were there we were able to feed him some Key Lime pie, raspberry jello, vanilla ice cream, and he could feed himself some watermelon and cherry candies.

What a thing it is to see a father die. But we spent our last day with him, and his last full day, watching football in the afternoon. It is a thing, though, to know that one’s father was such a good person. Everyone who came to his funeral or came to sit shiva with my mother or who called spoke of a man who was always sweet and soft-spoken. The man who told my mother after a couple of weeks of dating that he wanted to be together “for life” did just that for almost 55 years.

And now my mother will have a different life. And we who loved him will have a different life. But his kindness and gentleness will always be a part of our lives.

Strength and Love

Strength and thoughts and prayers of love and healing and comfort to my father who is battling cancer--and to all those and their loved ones who are sick.

Mi Sheberakh (The Jewish Prayer for Healing)
May the One who blessed our ancestors--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah--bless and heal those who are ill. May God overflow with compassion upon them, to restore them, to heal them, to strengthen them, to enliven them. That God will send them, speedily, a complete healing--healing of the soul and healing of the body--along with all the ill, among the people of Israel and all humankind, soon, speedily, without delay, and let us all say: Amen!

Closure, What It Feels Like

I finally got to court on Wednesday; “got to” meaning that we were all there, including the judge, but we didn’t face the judge because nasty lady lawyer decided that we were not properly prepared to face the judge who would get mad at us all for arguing about little things, as in the Battle of the Grocery Store Receipts. That was, to a large extent, because, as she tried to make it out, I did not present the hundreds of pages of receipts and bills to her and her associate early enough to send to exman. Of course, I was never told that I needed to have them in to her early enough to send to him in advance (and in chronological order). She, of course, also said that it was because I got emotional over the summer when there was another delay and I need to, basically, act my age. I was also charged as guilty for not having continued to present receipts to him all the time, as it stated in the PSA but which he always ignored and so I stopped. 

But I don’t feel like mulling over how the lawyers I have encountered have failed me. In spite of her not preparing me to properly prepare for court, I do think she was the best lawyer I have encountered and too bad that I didn’t have her earlier instead of the lawyer who I thought was as good as could be when, in fact, he was incompetent. (Note to self and others: do as Charlotte did and go for the unattractive lawyer if you’re going with a man.)

Okay, the point. Nasty lady lawyer, who wouldn’t let exman rile her and abuse her as he has done to three associates at her law firm as well as the receptionist (imagine that, verbally abusing a receptionist) told exman off and, perhaps momentarily, put him in his little place. Her reaction to him: he’s extremely unattractive; he looks dissolute, as if he might, on occasion, be drinking too much; is seedy and unkempt looking; oh, and he is still in love with me and is devastated by the divorce. She even told him that he’s upset that I left him and it must hurt him that I am so cute. Oh, the woman has balls.

But that’s still not the point. The point is that I am finished, finished with worrying about him getting the better of me, of him getting away with owing me money. I’m just done. What has been has been, and now I am ready to let it go, so I won’t have more money to buy an apartment, and so I have spent too much money on lawyers, I am content as in not mad at myself for letting him win without putting up a fight and not disappointed in myself for having given in. Content that I have done all that I could have—should have—and content, too, that I have come out at the place where I am. 

For the first time I don’t see that another process will bring me anything I need—or that I will get—and am ready to let go. Sure, she said that she will meet with him to go over his receipts and my receipts (at no charge to me she even told him—and she charges quite a lot), but I don’t feel anchored to that in any way. No, I have left the anchor behind. I am no longer moored in any way to him and the marriage and the divorce. Does saying that negate saying it? No, I don’t think so. I really feel complete. Maybe that’s closure, not that there is a tidy end to something (and even an apology and a forgiving), but rather that you feel that no more needs to be done. Does closure happen when you sever your ties to something that had formerly held you? Not that you close a door, but rather that you pass through a doorway. So closure really is an opening, an opening into a space that doesn’t hold you to what had been. Closure, it’s not an end, it’s the gradual movement from one place to another. It is the personal passage from the past to the present.

NOTE: I absolutely loved the fact that this tough 60-something lawyer came to court in an obviously expensive black suit that was decorated with tiny rhinestones and  rhinestone-studded heart-shaped buttons. Oh, she was a sight to see. No power shoulder pads or asexual suiting, she was all woman—all 120 pounds of her in her three-inch heels, ready to do battle with any pin-stripe that came her way.

PMS, who needs it

I’d like to know why when I am PMSing I have to have doubts of self-worth? Why can’t I get annoyed at everyone else and curse at the bad drivers on the road who cut me off and who don’t know how to signal? Why, why can’t I satisfy the hormones within by looking at the unsavory behaviors of others? Why can’t I rage at them instead of turning on myself? This surely can’t be some kind of self-preservation instinct because it just tears at my self.

In my younger years I don’t remember feeling this way once a month. In my much younger years there was the agony of one-day cramps. In my young motherhood years there were barely any reactions. In the past few years there has been a pre-headache, but now, now there is far too much self-dissection that I could surely do without that accompanies the headaches. It’s lovely that my body is still functioning as a woman’s should even though I have no intention of becoming a mumsey again and surely no man seems to find my womanly curves of any interest, so why do I have to succumb to a monthly session with the toughest therapist around—my own inner angst unleashed? It’s an agony to be consumed with so much doubt; have I lived 48 years, building to a generally confident woman, only to be most efficiently mocked at by myself? I don’t really need the monthly readjustment phase because it doesn’t readjust so efficiently, there’s always a lingering to that uncomfortable, unknowing teen that I was when I first started PMSing. Could there be any reason for this? Do I need to think about how bad I am as a person on such a harsh schedule?

Why can’t I be unsettlingly satisfied with myself once a month? Would that be a bad thing—to glow and gloat? Wouldn’t that serve a better purpose than to think about my uselessness? Do we get the PMS we deserve? Is this an eternal voice that I need to battle, constantly, so that I will not let myself subtly be submerged but will, instead, ultimately emerge chrysalis-like to the mindset that I have been growing into? Is this the last vestige of the self-doubt that I have harbored within for so very long? Will I finally conquer self-doubt when I don’t let myself be waylaid by a monthly hormonal imbalance? Can that be done? Can I be stronger than myself?

I guess I have another month to see. Maybe I should mark my calendar so that I won’t be blindsided but will be prepared to fight back and conquer those doubts that I don’t need invading my confidence.