One the factors that sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ability – the desire? – to mark time. Granted, in some parts of the world, people’s relationship with time is more fluid than in others but, by and large, my assumption is that we tend to watch the clock and note milestones.
With the Jewish New Year at our doorstep, I’ve been struggling a bit with how to relate to this time of year – specifically now, not in general – when, in addition to lots of amazing food and time with family and friends, Jews around the world are supposed to take stock of the past year and look forward to the new one.
For me, this time of year means looking back not only 12 months, but back four years to when, in early October, I was sent directly from the CT scan room to the ER to the OR. I remember like it was yesterday, the mounting physical discomfort punctuated by bouts of acute pain and more-than-fleeting concern that accompanied me into the holiday season. I remember being invited to meals at the homes of friends, and not being able to eat, or really sit still, for that matter. I remember a lot of things I’d prefer to forget.
But I also think of the past 48 months or so and the incredible challenges I’ve faced and how my life has changed, thanks to the dragons I’ve slayed. I think of the people I’ve met – healthcare professionals; friends and strangers who have simply wanted to help; acquaintances I’ve interacted with and still have no idea of “what’s going on” – and the experiences I’ve had. I think of my ongoing effort to learn to let go, either of the truly small, inconsequential stuff that really doesn’t matter but still makes me crazy, or the really big stuff that also really doesn’t matter but still makes me crazy.
I continue to be floored by my children who grow like weeds (physically and spiritually and emotionally). I revel in the pleasure of watching them, mostly when they are impervious to my watchful eye.
There is some incredibly moving liturgy that will be read over the coming days and, quite frankly, I’m not sure how I will react to it, if at all. I’m more than a little apprehensive, wondering if I will really connect to any of it, or throw up a defensive shield and choose to simply observe.
I do know that, as always, it will be difficult for me to listen to others lead the High Holy Day services, as the last time I was able to do so was in 2010 (and for about 15 consecutive years before that), the year before I was diagnosed; since then, I’ve either been recovering from surgery or in the midst of treatment that has benched me.
There’s a lot that is uncertain about this holiday season and beyond, but I know this: I will enjoy and appreciate the time with my family and friends. I will continue to give thanks for those who have helped me thus far. And, I will be able to consume that which I desire, secure in the knowledge that the scale will not deviate much from 66.6 kilo.
With warm wished to you and yours – regardless of what religion you may, or may not, practice.