Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shiva

The term "sitting Shiva" refers to a seven day period of mourning after a close relative of a Jewish person has passed away. A person sits Shiva after the death of one of his parents, brothers/sisters, children, husband or wife. Sitting Shiva has two important purposes: honoring the dead, and helping the mourner deal with his or her loss.

I went to a Shiva last night for a family friend.  I had not done this ritual in a long time - maybe since I was a kid.  Often I attend the funeral or the burial but do not always make it back to the house to pay my respects, too.

Several things stood out to me.  

1. We did not sit Shiva for my dad.  While he was Jewish through and through, it was not something we felt he would have wanted and we were able to delay the funeral enough that most of the out-of-towners could get here for the funeral.

2. Sitting shiva is really comforting.  You the mourner are not comfortable - there are all kinds of rituals to make sure that you are not comfortable actually - but the warmth and the compassion and the love you get from those that come to pay their respects in your home is really quite lovely.  It's different than at a funeral home or cemetery.

3. We never got to sit Shiva for Allie.  Well, we did not even have a funeral for her.  That would have just been to much to handle for Gary and for me.  We barely had come to terms with the fact that she had died and to have a service with all our loved ones would have just been so so hard.  So we mourned with each other and in private.  Technically, you can not sit shiva for an infant under 30 days old anyway.  Jewish law does not permit it.  I did some research, though, and it looks like that is changing a bit.  Depends on what you believe and how you chose to interpret it.  Truth be told, although  we did not officially sit shiva for Allie, we certainly did have a mourning period for her (and it lasted way longer than 7 days which is the standard).

4. Hebrew prayers and chanting are some of the most wonderful sounds that exist to me.  I grew up very involved in our synagogue and in fact last night, was met by 2 close friends that I have known since we were in United Synagogue Youth together.  I had a prayer book in my hand but I did not need it as all the prayers came back to me with their melodies as well.  It was sad.  It was solemn.  It was beautiful.

5. Death and dying sucks.  No matter how old - no matter how sick - saying goodbye is really hard.  I never like seeing my friends and family cry and when they do/are and there is nothing I can do about it...well, it just sucks.

I found this little tidbit via my friend, Google.  "Attending a Shiva is a mitzvah (commandment). The mitzvah is to go to a house of mourning, to comfort the bereaved, and to assure that there will be a minyan of ten people to recite the Kaddish memorial prayer. Performing this mitzvah is one of the highest honors a person can do for another in our community. It is not necessary that you know the deceased or the mourner for your presence to help in comforting the mourners as they grieve and heal."

I felt comforted that my presence may have been comforting last night.  Not a bad way to spend an evening, if you ask me.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tomorrow

"Tomorrow, tomorrow I love you tomorrow
You're always a day away ..."

Tomorrow marks the 6 year anniversary of my first date with Gary.  I can't believe it.  It seems like yesterday and it seems like decades ago all at the same time.

Had you told me 6 years ago today that my life was about the change the very next day, I would not have believed you.  Gary from work, my friend Beth and I all met up for drinks.  Beth left shortly after the hummus tray was devoured as she seemed to catch on long before us that something special was happening.

In 6 years, we have gotten married 3 times.  We have experienced so very much.  We have traveled around the country and to Mexico.  We have seen countless movies.  We have played Rock Band and Scattergories and Words With Friends.  We have spent hours and hours with our families.  Gary has run several Tough Mudder's and other assorted races and now I can say I have run a 5k, too.  We turned 40 together.  
 
We jumped up and down with wild abandon when we got pregnant and we clung to each other like there was no one else in the world when we were told there was no fetal heartbeat.  We held our first daughter in our arms together.  We mourned together.  We started to heal together.

We did research together.  We found an adoption agency together.  We had a home study.  We went to meetings upon meetings, all while going to grief counseling.  We hosted a fundraiser. We got chosen.  We loaded the car and went to Delaware.  We met our second daughter.

Our journey has been high and it has been low.  But through it all, we have been side-by-side because that is how we work.

Not everyone celebrates the anniversary of their first date.  We call it our "First Date-A-Versary".  But we are not everyone.  We believe in celebrating all the good things, no matter how big or small.

I plan to raise Miranda with that same spirit, too. 

Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling so lucky.  Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling so happy.  I only know luck and happiness, though, from being without either or both.  

Tomorrow night we will go back to the scene of our first date.  We will have an adult night out that might even include a movie if we can stay awake!  A little bit different from 2008, but so much sweeter now with all the memories between us and the knowledge that we will be together for whatever comes next!
October 2008




November 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Run!

Years ago, I decided I wanted to be a runner.  I bought new sneakers, I trained for a bit and then life got in the way. 

A few months ago, I got the bug again.  This time, I downloaded an app for my phone and made myself promise that 2 days a week when Miranda went to daycare, I would run.  And I did.  I also picked 1 day on the weekend and ran then.  Finally, once my training was complete, I signed up for my first race.

The race was this past Saturday.  It was cold.  It was wet.  It was nasty.

So we changed our plan.  Instead of Gary and Miranda and my mom cheering me on, we dropped Miranda off at my mom's house and Gary decided to run the race with me.  No sense waiting by the finish line when he could just as easily be by my side.

There were also a lot of runners from my old job there as well.  That company had helped sponsor the race.  It was nice to see the familiar faces and the vibe overall was very positive.

I did not get to warm up the way I wanted and before I knew it, it was time to go.  I ran over the starting line and let out a "WOO HOO!" and we were off.

Probably about 2 minutes later, I lost my enthusiasm.  Rain was mixing with sweat and I was soaked to the bone.  I felt heavy and winded and wondered why I had even bothered.

And then I remembered.  I bothered because I want to be healthy.  I bothered because I want to be around for a long time to come.  I bothered because it was good to set a goal and go after it.

Do I love running?  HA!  No.  I wish I could say that I did.  Do I love the feeling I get from running?  Absolutely.

I tried to channel Allie during my run but I came up with nothing.  I tried to focus on Miranda but that did not help.  I tried to think of the things my family can and will do if I am around for a long time to come and that is what kept me going.  I need to be here to do those things and I need to be here to keep the memories safe.

Eventually we neared the finish line.  I was still going!!!  

There was a crowd cheering me on as we neared the end.  There was my biggest supporter right behind me (who was gracious enough to let me "beat" him).  I took my  headphones out so I could really experience the moment. And I did.

Will I run another one?  Maybe.  I am not sure yet. What I do know is that I woke up this morning, laced up my sneakers and went for a run.  Got my best time yet.  So you just never know.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

My "Why"

When I first got interested in selling Rodan + Fields, I was told to craft my "why".  Have a reason in my mind that will give me the courage to reach out, make me remember why I got involved in the first place and have something to focus on, aside from the products themselves.

I did not have to think long.  My family is my "why".

3 days a week, I lace up my sneakers, pull my hair into a ponytail, squeeze my body into clothes that are not flattering and I run.  I run to feel better.  I run to get in shape. I run to set an example for my daughter.  I run to make sure I am around for a long time to come.

I am a freelance writer.  2 days a week from home and 1 day a week from an office of my very own.  I write about training classes and blog about human resource practices and I do it so that I can be home with Miranda the rest of the week and so that I can keep my mind sharp so that I can play with her and teach her all the things that she will need to know.  I also do it so that I can afford to buy her whatever her (and my) heart desires.

I never assumed that I was going to be a wife and I certainly never thought I was going to be a mother.  Now that I am both, I can't imagine it any other way.  

Allie is my why, even though she is not here.  You can't see her, but she is here.  I know it.


Miranda is my why and she brings more light and laughter to all those around her than I ever would have thought possible.


Gary is my why - for without him, I would be so lost.


My brothers, my sisters-in-law, my mom, my in-laws...all part of my why.  For them I want to be strong and healthy and happy.

Lastly, I am my own why.  I deserve all of these things.  It took me most of my life to see that, but lately it has become so clear to me.  

Do you know your why?  Take a moment and make sure you do.  You won't regret it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Save the Boobies...Remember the Babies

It's October again.  Leaves are falling off the trees and there is a chill in the air.  Fall has arrived.

The color pink has also arrived - in every store that we go to and every place that I look.  I am glad breast cancer awareness has become so, well, aware.  I have family members who are proud survivors and I always donate to Susan G. Komen (as well as other charities) throughout the year.

Most people are not aware that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Declared to be so in 1988 by then-President Ronald Regan, it seems that each year, it is slowly getting more and more recognition.

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, also falls in October this year (as is often does).  On that day, we fast and reflect and vow to not make the same mistakes we have made in the past.  We repent for our sins of the past year and get a clean slate for the next year.  

I do not need to change the calendar to think about Allie.  Nor do I need to fast in order to repent.  But having a specific day or month to celebrate or commemorate is kind of neat.

I have been reflecting a lot these days.  More than normal, it seems.  A few weeks ago, I saw a little girl about Ella's age and thought to myself how adorable she was.  And then I realized she was probably Allie's age.   I am starting to associate more and more with the child or children that are here (my wonderful nieces) and less and less with the child that is not.

I have not forgotten my first daughter.  I will never forget her.  My scars are fading but my love for her is not.

Parenting Miranda does not allow for a lot of time for self-pity.  But it does allow time for self-reflection.  Would I be happy now if Miranda was not here?  If I was still waiting to be an active parent?  I do not think so.  And yet being Miranda's mom has brought me such joy and such happiness that while it does not erase the pain of losing Allie, it certainly eases it.

Does happiness only come out of pain?

Am I a better parent because at one point, I had nothing to lose? Am I a better person for the same reason?

On October 15th, we will have a balloon release.  Just Gary, Miranda and me.  Miranda will surely participate and by next year, start to ask questions.  Where do we begin?

Maybe it's not a question of where to begin since we are already "in" it.  Maybe it's how to we continue?

Fly high, Allie.  We love you.  This month...and every month.  This day...and every day.  





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