Tuesday, January 5, 2021

2021- Beginning of my thoughts.

  I used to think that New Years was a waste of time, and that by snubbing it, it made me some kind of enlightened intellectual or something. I thought that people who knew real pain knew better than to use an arbitrary day as a new start to make resolutions, to recommit to relationships, or to believe that they could suddenly change. The whole holiday seemed fantastical- as if the whole world could just chose a day to get a new start all at once. Who would ever need that? 

Enter 2021. The year after the pandemic. The year after whole world literally learned new lessons together- oh, we learned them in our own ways, but we learned them together. We learned about isolation. We learned about loneliness and togetherness. We were forced to face what was truly important to us whether we wanted to or not. This last year, the concept of normal was not a reality for any of us.    

And then, there was New Years. Enter that arbitrary day, because in reality, we are still in the middle of the pandemic, and we are still learning. We haven’t created a real new normal yet because the world isn’t quite where it’s going to land. No one has created a permanent sense of security. But for once, a new start together seemed very real, and very attainable.

Let me share a personal insight with you. By snubbing New Years for all that time, I was not enlightened or intellectual. I was just being ridiculous and pompous. Because every new start is arbitrary. In life, there is no real “new” start. Every start comes with the knowledge of all that happened before it. We live and we learn and we change when we can. And if we get the opportunity to all start again together, well that’s a blessing, not something to give up on so easily. 

Whether you spent your New Years making resolutions to start fresh, drinking away all the things you didn’t want to remember, or sleeping off all the remnants of the year left on you like I did (I hit a solid fourteen hours), I hope you found your own beautiful new start. But if you didn’t find one yet, rest assured that you’ll have as many chances as you’d like. A new start can come all at once, or it can come over time. It can be on New Years, on January 3rd, on April 17th, or any other day. 

But whenever you celebrate your own newness, remember that this time, the whole world is doing it with you. Because a world that changes together has the chance to rebuild together, to remake together. This year, next year, whenever. 

Happy 2021. 

Introduction to me and my skies

      I am something of a grief expert, if you will. That’s not to say that I have mastered it. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I have been through many kinds of grief in my life, and I have finally learned that it will never go away. I have learned that I will be living with these experiences for as long as I am myself. And I have learned that griefs are shared- and that they shouldn’t be hidden away. 

    I was 3 years old when I learned about grief. My grandfather passed away. I have a few memories from that time. The biggest hints come from my mother, who tells me about how I would sit by the door and cry for him, hoping he would walk in. Once I realized he wasn’t coming back, the concept of death haunted me. I walked around the house singing Skeeter Davis’s “End of The World”, a ballad about a breakup that implied that all life ended with the goodbye. I would pack emergency bags when I heard about storms on the television, ready to hide in the basement at a moment’s notice; Not realizing the storms were in other cities or states. I would check out the book “On Death and Dying” from the library every other week, since I was only allowed one book at a time. I had to go to the non-fiction section on the adult’s side of the library to get it, which scared me a little, but it brought my comfort. 

            But the losses didn’t stop, and death followed me throughout adolescence. I learned to fear loss. I learned to grieve long before the loss occurred. It started when my sister and I won a goldfish at a Purim carnival. By the time we got them home, they were in bad shape. Her fish was dead before nightfall. I wept and wept for hours over the loss of my own poor fish, until I fell asleep. When I woke the next morning, he was gone. With a solemn nod, I acknowledged the loss, and then went in search of breakfast, leaving my bewildered mother at the foot of my bed. 

            Sometime in my early 20s, I learned that loss is inevitable, whether I grieved before or after. So, I put up a screen-a clear window I could hide behind when feelings came at me. At first, I could open it when I wanted to let feelings in and close it when I got overwhelmed. But eventually, it shut, and I forgot it was there. I lived behind it permanently, never fully experiencing anything- not the good or the bad. 

            Then when I turned 30, I lost my pregnancy at 16 weeks. But from the moment I’d become pregnant, I’d been crying. I’d known my daughter wasn’t mine to keep. And once she was gone, I just got up with my solemn nod and tried to get on with my life. 

            But this time, it didn’t work. Somehow, the grief had gotten behind the window I’d forgotten was there. I needed to open it to let it out, but that was going to let all the other things back in. 

            Eventually I did open the window, and I remembered. I remembered all the pain and sorrow. I remembered all the hurt that I was ignoring. I remembered what it felt like to cry...but I also remembered that not all the tears were bad. I remembered how to hope. I remembered how it felt to really love and be loved - and I remembered how to feel like I had grown.

           There is an old saying- "Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red Sky at morning, Sailors take warning." I have had my shares of red skies, both at night, and in the early hours. I have not always listened. I have had my share of mourning. 

            So, I am sharing some of my grief with you, in case they are yours too. Or in case you may just want to read about what someone else has gone through. Or maybe just to write them- I don’t really know. I hope they speak to you. I know they’ve shaped me. 

            Thanks for reading.