Thursday, November 09, 2006

I mourned for my friends child

I Mourned

In literature, there is a skill to naming characters. One writer says

The first step in naming your characters is to know them. Names make impressions. That's why you should think long and hard over them. You want your readers to remember your characters' names long after they've finished reading the book. But before you can name your characters, you must know them inside and out. Create a thorough outline on each one. Analyze what motivates them, what makes them who they are.”

The name defines the person. It makes the character real. Sometimes the character is a protagonist and you don’t want your readers to sympathize. It’s hard to sympathize with a nameless character.

I have known Chaim Schwartz* for over a year now. We became friendly through a mutual acquaintance. He lost a child sometime within the last few years. We become friends and the fact that we both lost children permeated the air but was seldom discussed. We saw each other a number of times and spoke on the phone. I was embarrassed when someone asked me what his child’s name was or how his child passed away. I was embarrassed at myself for not having the answers. I was surprised that I had forgotten such an important part of Chaim’s life. We had spoken about grief but never about his child.

Recently we were together at an event which was geared towards bereaved parents. Someone spoke about the importance of saying the name of the deceased child. Chaim confided in me that he rarely says the name, even at home. “It is like a stake in the heart.” he said. Someone said,” It keeps the memory of the child alive”. Throughout the course of the event, that idea motivated Chaim to speak of his son and his death. His son’s was Zalmy* and he died from the “machla”. I don’t recall having ever heard his name spoken before.

That is when I mourned. I mourned for the child of my friend. Until now, he was a nameless, faceless concept. His child was a tragedy. A nightmare but not a person. Now Zalmy was a child whose precious life was taken of him by a disease with a name. I mourned for that child and mourned for my friend, Chaim. Until now I knew in my mind that Chaim had lost a child but now I looked at him as a bereaved father bereft of his son. I mourned for him and saw, for the first time, the pain and anguish. I saw his emptiness and I saw his courage. To take on the mundane aspects of everyday life takes courage. I mourned for him and I continue to mourn for him as a friend and fellow bereaved father.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chai Lifeline Speech

Chai Lifeline Speech

I had the unfortunate experience of becoming acquainted with Chai Lifeline some 7 or 8 years ago. At that time, our child was diagnosed on a routine checkup with having a rare illness. It is now 8 years later and my definition as a person has become that of a bereaved parent of 2 years and counting. We need to express our hakaras haTov and proclaim "Baruch Hashem" for Chai Lifeline. We have witnessed the evolution of Chai Lifeline which started as an organization which provided support services for families of pediatric cancer patients to the world renowned organization that exists today. I want to personally thank and offer my encouragement to Rabbi Scholar to continue in his holy work. And of course to thank Zahava, Raizy,the entire Chai Lifeline staff and  Dr Blumenthal, who has become a close confidant and friend over the last few years. His recent appointment to director of Bereavement services is a blessing for all of us.

I have attended a number of retreats over the last few years but I would like to share with you some thoughts about , what for me , is the most fascinating part. In fact, we have just experienced it. I am not referring to my speech but to "the Friday night davening". Before my first retreat, which for us, was only a few months after the Nechama Liba’s petirah, a friend forewarned me to take notice. Typically on Friday afternoon, families start to arrive, sometime after 1pm. Eat a little kugel, express a smile, maybe even nod at a passerby and say hello. Nothing extraordinary there. After the “hussle-bussle” of preparing for shabbos, you arrive at the shul on Friday night. Inevitably at some point, you look around the room and it hits you and you think to yourself, "NOO WAY. It can't be. ALL of these people, have experienced the ...most tragic event in their lives.....just like I have". I like to call it “Friday Night Staring”. Black hat, streimal, knitted yarmulka, the folded yarmulka that you get at a bar mitzvah. There is no identifying theme. Tragedy does not discriminate. It is indeed a shock as you look around the room at people.

I wanted to share the following question: Why is this retreat at camp Simcha? For logistical reasons firstly. But perhaps there is a deeper significance. Camp Simcha is run throughout the summer divided into 4 two week sessions that services children with chronic illnesses. For my daughter, it was the highlight of her year. And possibly her life. It is a chance to feel normal. It is an opportunity for the children to be near others who can relate to them. In the outside world, they feel so different from their peers. Even their own family doesn't truly understand them. They found it difficult to talk to most people about their feelings, because they sense that such discussion makes others feel uncomfortable.

All of us here have those same feelings. Among them are the feeling of being different, the feeling of wanting to be able to talk about our experiences with someone who can understand and relate to them. How many of us have tried to talk about our child with a friend and immediately sense uneasiness? If you’re lucky, you will meet with silence. But worse,much worse,is when you find friends or relatives, who try to relate to you and your situation. As an example, during a intimate and personal conversation, a close friend, well meaning, tried to empathize with my situation by describing how his car was stolen. It was like a poem “And we sat in silence...mourning our mutual loses together.

A bereaved parent that I know received a letter from a sincere individual in an effort to soothe his pain. While trying to find a point of reference to the suffering, the author describes the pain of his own loss. The loss of his grandfather. When asked how old his grandfather was, the answer was 104.

And many people find that their own families are unable to relate. They are suffering in their own way but have trouble either relating or acknowledging your pain. A bereaved parent, in his late twenties, told me a story about how he was feeling especially down one day as he was driving home from work. This person, we will call him Shlomo. Shlomo went straight to his parents’ home looking for comfort or advice. Besides, being a good ear under normal circumstances, Shlomo’s father was a well respected community leader. As Shlomo poured out his heart to his father, his father turned to him and said," Son, read this" as he pointed to a specific magazine article" As Shlomo scanned the article describing the art of Sumo wrestling, he tried to absorb or to interpret the subtle message that his father wanted him to understand. Unable to understand the greater message of the article, with a confused expression Shlomo turns to his father and said" Dad, the article is about Sumo wrestling."
Dads says" I know isn’t it amazing?" It would be completly comical if it wasn't tragic.

And often, we hear from others or at the very least we can sense that they have an expectation that we should be getting on with our lives. And on the flip side, for us, bereaved parents, it can be difficult not to be cynical of the suffering of normal people. Especially in the beginning, all difficulties pale in comparison to the point of being insignificant. Trivial decisions are just that, trivial. Does anything else matter? Will anything else ever matter?  Yet the following thought helps me to empathize, even sympathize, with events and emergencies as other define them. When you stub your toe it hurts. Falling down a flight of stairs hurts. The recovery is different. The intensity of the pain is different but "pain is pain" and it is important for us to acknowledge that. And for us, we are likened to someone who underwent a terrible ordeal and needs significant rehabilitation. We need to learn to walk again. Learn to talk and to eat. Sometimes just to get through the day.

The deeper significance in hosting the retreat at Camp Simcha lies in the ability for everyone who is participating to be surrounded by people who actually understand them. Just like those children who come in the summer, we can talk with each another about feelings and events, without uncomfortable silence. We can even laugh at ourselves and our situations and feel normal. About a year ago, day a teacher called our house in a panic. My younger daughter was in her English class. This teacher had a daily vocabulary exercise where she would give out a list of new words and call on a student to make a sentence out of it. As luck would have it, my child got the word buried. Her sentence was “My sister is buried in Eretz Yisroel." I am pretty sure that was the last day of that exercise. My wife and I laughed. It was comical even though it was tragic.

If there is one thing that I would change at the retreat it would be the following. There is a metamorphosis that occurs whereby sometime between the Friday Night Staring with your jaw dropping and Sunday morning, friendships are created. Barriers are broken. Walls are torn down. If I could change one thing about the retreat, it would be to tear those walls down sooner. We all know why we are here. And the opportunity like this is one that needs to be seized. We can accomplish great things. For ourselves and for others. We've all been at the place called “Rock Bottom”. Some of us are still there and all of us make frequent visits.

Quote from a book about bereavement from a bereaved parent:
There is a need to talk, without trying to give reasons. No reason is going to be acceptable when you hurt so much. A hug, the touch of a hand, expressions of concern, a willing listener were and still are the things that have helped the most...The people who [were] the greatest help... [were] not judgmental. It's most helpful when people understand that [what is needed] is to talk about it and that this is part of the grief process. - DEFRAIN ET AL. 1991, 158, 163

Most of us struggle daily to navigate through this life as a bereaved parent. For some of us it is hourly and in the beginning, it is even more often. Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone and say hello. Where are you from? The friendships that you make here will be among the strongest that you will ever make. We have met people at these weekends that are among our closest friends. We attend each other simchos and share each other pain. As President Reagan said, “Tear down that wall”. Emotions are compared to an onion, we need to uncover layer after layer to reach the core. As we unpeel the layers; we need friends along the way to wipe the tears.

Leave you with another quote that a bereaved father wrote in a book:
You will always grieve to some extent for your lost child. You will always remember your baby and wish beyond wishes that you could be with her again. But as time goes on, this wishing will no longer deplete you of the will to live your own life. - HORCHLER AND MORRIS 1994, 158

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Memories of a classmate #3

Nechama Liba,A”H  was a very beloved friend of mine! She
was a kind and cheerful girl who never complained, no
matter what happened. If it was gym or recess that she
couldn’t go to, or her lunch that was left at home, you never
heard a single complaint come out of her mouth. Everything
was done with a smile; she was a true tzadekes.  May everyone learn
and grow up to be a tzadekes just like she was.


Nechama Liba,A”H, was a sensitive caring girl. I remember
one morning when I  was feeling sad.  Nechama Liba noticed
and came over to sit near me on the bus.  She listened to
me and spoke to me and made me feel much better.  By the
time I got to school, I did not felt sad at all.  I ended up
having a good day in school.

          –- another classmate

Monday, September 04, 2006

Zikaron Siyum year2

We just finished learning Mishnayos in Masechta Tannis, the tractate of fasting. When learning, it is important to discover the essence of a Masechta. In this regard, Masechta Taanis is somewhat of a challenge. Despite, the fact that we fast 4 times per year, the spontaneous fasting, which is discussed at length, is something that we rarely see. Rain which was once a critical source of livelihood is now seen as a mere inconvenience. At one time, the lack of rain was viewed as a crisis. As the days passed, the crisis grew more serious, the effects intensified.
In these days of Ichvesa dmeshicha, we bear witness to crisis all the time. With the invention and proliferation of new technologies, we are exposed to crisis and tragedy all around the world. We hear of natural and military crisis. Years ago, who even knew what a tsunami was? Yet somehow we have become desensitized. Our hearts have hardened.
The Rambam in Hilchos Taanis provides us with the key to understanding what Taanis is all about. Masechta Taanis teaches us what to do in the face of hardship and crisis. The key is the reaction. The halachos of Masechta Taanis teach us that we need to react. And the reaction needs to grow along with the intensification of the looming crisis. In the beginning, only the leaders fasted. As time passed, with no rain in site, the number of people required to fast increase. Then the intensity of the fasting increased both in quality and in quantity. Then other restrictions are added. In addition, the reaction must intensify depending on how close you are to the crisis. Every situation is like a stone that is thrown into the water creating concentric circles. The inner circle is the most affected: the family, then friends, then schools, then community and the greater clal. The closer you are to the center, the greater the sense of tragedy. The greater the sense of tragedy, the greater and the more intense the response needs to be. Fasting is a response to a looming famine. What is our response to the events that affect us?
Every person has some aspect of their life which needs chizuk. It might be in our relationship with Hashem. It might be in our relationships with our fellow man. But in one way or another we need to react.
We are all in the inner circles. We were all zoche to have a relationship with Nechama Liba. I met someone just last week. He was asking me questions about her. I told him of her smile, her simchas haChaim. Her bravery. And her deep desire to be an inspiration to others. As well as her efforts to protect her family even to her own disadvantage.
All he needed was to see was a picture of her charming smile to understand “just how special of a girl she was”. What we need to take from this, is the desire and the willpower to react.  In fact, the greatest zechus we can give to Nechama Liba is to react. What will be our response? The answer is an individual one. Yet if each one of us finds that place where we want to improve or accept something upon ourselves, then we have followed the sagely advice of the Rambam and we have allowed the message of Mesechta Taanis to permeate our souls. We have responded, not by becoming hardened but by using this tragedy as springboard to greater yiras shamayim. Just as Yosef, was saved from the yetzer hara by a picture of his father in his mind, as challenges confront us, all we need to do is put the image of a young girl whose smile was cemented on her face regardless of the circumstance.

As it says at the end of Masechtes Taanis, Hashem should build the Bais Hamikdash speedily in our days.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In Memory of a classmate #2

   Nechama Liba A”H had a heart of gold- always caring about others.
   She respected her elders along with her classmates.  When you were upset and sad, you could depend on her smile to cheer you up. Nechama never complained and was always ready to help whether it was sharing her notes or studying for a test.  If ever a classmate was sick Nechama was the first to call to see how she was feeling.
There were so many things that were special about her that we remember and the things she taught us we will never forget.  We  will miss her!

--- written by Nechama’s classmates

She was always very nice,
No matter what the price.
Patience was her key,
As she smiled happily.
Her face held a spiritual light,
because she served Hashem day and night

--- written by Nechama’s classmates

Ever since she was a little girl,
Her heart was precious like a pearl.
She cared for every single friend,
Her love and happiness had no end.
Nechama had a certain spark,
That never, ever turned dark.
She put a smile on everyone’s face,
Even though she was in a bad place.
She had a very special touch,
And we miss her very much.
---written by Nechama’s classmates

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Mother Writes of Her Loss

Malka Roth died at the age of fifteen in a terrorist attack in the Sbarro restaurant, Jerusalem, on August 9, 2001 (Menachem Av 20, 5761).
Her mother wirties about her daughter and about her loss.

A Mother Writes of Her Loss

Her parents have created a foundation to honour Malka's memory.

Nechama Liba's Yartzheit is
Menachem Av 18.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Poem in memory of a student

How shall I start?
Where shall I begin?
When there are so many emotions,
Churning within.

Reminiscing about the past,
I cry tear after tear.
With an aching heart,
I cry about Nechama Liba, so dear.

Many times we wonder,
And many times we sigh.
Sometimes we think,
How much more must we cry?

But when we cry about Nechama Liba,
We also smile about the past.
The royal memories…
They will forever last.

Refined, sterling character,
Yes, a princess indeed.
In the bas melech role,
She certainly played the lead.

Nechama Liba,
Your purity was clear as crystal,
So dainty and fine.
Your beautiful Middos reflected in a prism,
Your shem tov  still does shine.

Your sweet disposition and constant smile,
Oh! How your eyes always gleamed.
You took everything in stride,
Life was perfect…or so it seemed.

But your neshama is perfect,
And Hashem wanted you nearby.
You’re right Nechama Liba,
We shouldn’t cry, - nor sigh.

Your neshama left this world,
Unblemished and pristine.
In so short a time,
The best of you we have seen.

You illuminated our lives,
You were a shinning sun.
But day is no more,
And night has begun.

Dearest Nechama Liba,
Oh! How I miss your sunshine.
But those twinkling stars remind me,
You’ll forever be mine!

With love and fond memories,

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Be a Fool

His hair was unkempt; he face was badly in need of a shave. His clothes did not match and his shoes were untied.
This was a man who had neither time nor concern for the mundane.
His eyes were bloodshot and dark circles enveloped his eyes.
Yet his eyes spoke volumes. They spoke volumes about where he had been, and even more about what he was going through.
His child was in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for weeks. He described how he was able to remain optimistic until a recent setback was like a body slam that he could not recover from. I tried to encourage him to have faith and to believe that everything would be alright.

I told him that the key to getting through this nightmare is made up of 3 ingredients:
1. To always think positively and believe that no matter what the current circumstances, that it would get better. That in the end, everything would turn out alright
2. Act realistically, not withstanding item #1 above, deal with the situation at hand.
3. Don’t set unreasonable expectations. There are setbacks. Accept that sometimes, it feels like we are taking 2 steps back, 1 step forward.

"Why should I put myself through that?" He said. Obviously he had been disappointed before.
This recipe has a positive affect in 3 areas:
1. Emotional - it is a healthy attitude. It is ok to fool yourself a little.
2. Practical - you will be able to think clearly. Depression just clouds your judgment
3. Spiritual- by believing you become a vessel to bring about the yeshua that you need.

"But what if I fool myself and then the worst happens? Won't I be setting myself up for disappointment?"

"No, the shock of death of a child is something which nothing prepares you for."
Think like a fool, just act wise.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In memory of a student #2

Although you were only a tender young student when I taught you, in reality, you were the teacher.

You were a role model to everyone who came in contact with you.  You taught us how to accept without complaint.  You taught us how to fight with fortitude and purity.  You taught us that heroes can be young and noble.  You taught us about hope and with your positive spirit, you permeated an aura of light, compassion and complete belief.  You were spunky yet so gentle.

In that year, Nechama Liba, you taught me “lessons” that will stay with me forever. As I write this, my hands shake.  Words could never adequately describe who Nechama Liba Holman A”H really was.  As I look back, I cannot express enough gratitude to Hashem that I had the zechus of having you in my classroom.

-----written by another teacher

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nechama, Where are you?

The clock turns 2:34am. The chilly wind slams against the window pane. Nechama, Where are you?
It is late and you are not home.
You are not even eleven years old.
You should be home with your parents and your family.
My eyes are tired from waiting up.

Mommy and I are sick and worried about you.
I want to go to sleep but I don’t know where you are.
Is it fair that your sister should have to go to sleep by herself?
It is cold outside.
Your bed is empty and warm and waiting for your return.
Are you safe? Are you having fun? Are you happy?
Do you know the people that you are with?
Are you being taken care of? Is it warm? Are you comfortable? Please come home. I promise I won’t be angry.
I will hold you and never let go.
My tears will be tears of joy at seeing you again.
All of this will be a scare that we can put behind us.
Then as I start to doze off, it hits me suddenly, like an icy cold snowball that hits you in the face, Nechama passed away almost 2 years ago. The reality stings me like a bee bite that has become infected.

Please G-d, bring Moshiach soon and in the meantime give us the strength to have faith that you are taking care of her even better than we ever could have.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

In Memory of a Student

Nechama Liba Holman , A”H

How was a young child able, in her youthful life, to accept suffering and uncertainty so well? Nechama was 5 years old when she knew she that she was having a tremendous problem, that she needed an emergency bag with her at all times, and  that with every breath going in and out she was thankful, because she did not know where she would be tomorrow. But at that age she was able to accept it, and to have such a great nature that all the kids loved her. The teachers loved her. When she came back to school she wouldn’t complain saying, “Oh why is it me, look at me, I had to be out of school.” Nothing. She was happy to be back and she wouldn’t complain. She would come into the library, sit down, and pick up the books. She would smile when she came in, and smile when she was going out. Never, “Oh, I didn’t have the book, oh, why didn’t you have this . . . .” Nothing. She accepted what she had and she went on her way. At times other children (they should live and be well and not know of any tzoros) would complain that there are not enough books, that this or that is not right. Not Nechama. To me, this was not an ordinary child. She was just an angel. You hear children say, “Where did you go on your vacation?” “Oh, I was bored, I didn’t like this, I didn’t like that.” I never heard Nechama say this. I never heard her complain that a vacation was too long or too short or not good enough. Never. That is so unusual, and how many of us can emulate it?. She wanted only to be alive, and to be with her loved ones. She was happy. She wasn’t looking for anything above and beyond. We who are healthy walk around and say, oh, the weather isn’t good enough, and oh, this wasn’t right, and I couldn’t buy that, I couldn’t go there. We always have a whole list of complaints and things we must have to make us happy. Here, a young child who knew she was sick was able to accept everything, just happy to be alive. What a lesson that is. We can’t afford to forget her, because then we would have to say on Yom Kippur, “Oh G-d I shouldn’t have asked for this, I’m sorry for that.” Nechama accepted life, and we have to learn from her. It would be a wonderful lesson. How much we would learn someiach b’chelki, to be happy with my lot. We say it, but we don’t know how to live it. She lived it, and if we remember this lesson then we can never forget her, because she internalized those words, being happy, satisfied, and content. Now she is in Heaven with all the other angels.
Nechama Liba, a zeese neshoma, an angel that we were blessed to have for such a short time. Nechama Liba with her gentle and giving nature, accepting life’s challenges without complaining, taught us all how precious life is -- to be thankful for every moment of life. Nechama, in my mind’s eye I see you in our new library looking at and enjoying the books, and telling us all to be happy. We all love you and we will remember.
     ----------written by a  teacher

Sunday, May 21, 2006

In Memory Of a classmate

Bnos Bais Yaacov is the school where Nechama Liba attended. She passed away before the school opened its new building, but the Simcha hall is named after Nechama Liba. Ateres Nechama Liba is a befitting memorial for Nechama who was so full of life and happiness. A beautiful plaque is being prepared that will situated on the wall right outside the Simcha Hall. The plaque will contain 2 poems written about Nechama. One is written in Hebrew and one is written in English. In addition, a leather bound book was presented to us that contains letters and poems written about Nechama by her peers and teachers. I will present them on this blog. Here is just one of the entries in the book written by a classmate:

Nechama Liba A”H, was my classmate.  She was a very special girl.  Everyone enjoyed having her as a friend.  Whenever anyone was upset or having a hard time, she would always make them happy with her big smile. Nechama Liba A”H, learnt and taught us a big lesson - she taught us to smile. Even now when we have a hard day, we should remember her smile and try to be like her.
                              --written by a classmate

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Shiva - What to say

Someone is putting together a book on the Shiva experience and I thought I would add a thought or 2.

Please don't ask me if there was anything else that I could have done but didn't
On more than one occasion during Shiva,
I was asked “Wasn’t there something else that you could have done?"
What kind of response are they looking for? "Yes there was but we were sick and tired of trying new things. We figured it was her time to go anyways. Sure we have other kids, so why put all your eggs in one basket." of course we did everything that we could have done.

please don't help me by describing the root cause of why this happened to me. It is not helpful and certainly has no basis in halacha or hashkafa for you to tell me why my child died. I have heard of people who were told that their child died because they ate chalav stam. I have heard of people who were told that their child died because they called their child by a nickname instead of their full name (Chezky instead of Yechezkal for example).

Please don't try to distract me because it makes you feel more comfortable. I recall one fellow, a co worker who started talking about work. I mean details. He apologized and I said oh it is not a problem don’t worry about it. He took that to mean that he should continue.

Please don't judge my reaction. One person was offended since he felt that I wasn't hurting enough.
I was tempted to tell him," well, we weren’t that close. So it’s no big deal. Don’t tell anyone that you figured it out with your keen sense of human psychology”.

Please allow me to be silent. I have been speaking for hours on end sometimes repeating myself. I am drained emotionally and physically. Be there to comfort me and if silence is what I need, please respect it.

Please don't ask detailed questions about the illness, death or accident unless you can tell that I am interested in answering those questions.

Please don't ask “How I am doing?” I lost my child, how do you think I am doing. But you can ask “How am I managing?”

Please ask yourself, before speaking, if what you are saying is for your comfort or mine. Many times, well meaning people say things that are self serving and do not realize it.

My goal is not to start a people bashing campaign or to speak about dysfunctional people.
Everything that I have said is comments directed at normal, caring, well meaning people. If anyone has any comments, please share them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Saved from Disappointment.sort of.

This past Chol HaMoed, we were able to get tickets to an exciting event. We decided to book hotel rooms close by. There would be minyanim, separate swimming hours and loads of kids. We practically couldn't control our excitement. We decided that a surprise for the kids would be the best way to go just in case it didn't work out.

The anonymous voice on the phone at the reservation desk seemed understanding of our need to have adjoining rooms and would put in the request. It couldn't be guaranteed but we should call the morning of the trip to confirm. The night before the trip, I decided to call the hotel to make sure that we were confirmed. Thankfully, our rooms had been confirmed just as we had requested with 2 side by side rooms. I expressed my appreciation and was about to hang up the phone when a little voice in my head told me to double check that side by side rooms meant adjoining rooms. The bomb dropped. The rooms were not to one another but not adjoining.
I frantically called the manager to try to work things out and closed the door behind me so the kids would not walk in. But as life goes, while I was on the phone, one of the kids walked in. "GET OUT OF HERE! I AM ON THE PHONE" AND WAVED MY HAND ANGRILY. I wasn't about to ruin the surprise. Unfortunately, there was nothing that they could do as the adjoining rooms were already taken. My wife and I jumped into action. We researched hotels on the internet, made numerous phone calls. No one could guarantee adjoining rooms unless we came to the hotel. No amount of reasoning or logic could change this. I tried explaining to college age "reservationists" that I could not take my kids to NJ only to tell them that we have to turn around and go home. My plea fell on deaf ears. I started to panic. While I was in the middle of this frenzy, another kid walks right in. "GET OUT! NO ONE IS ALLOWED IN THIS ROOM. THE DOOR WAS CLOSED FOR A REASON!"

After another dozen phone calls and hours of internet research, I found a hotel that had adjoining rooms but could not guarantee it unless I came down. It was a holiday weekend and rooms were filling up fast.

We packed the kids in the car and told them we were going on a surprise trip. After 2 hours of traffic and nine hundred questions of “Where are we going? Are we there yet?” we arrived. I told the kids that I was going to go inside the hotel to ask directions. They still had no clue what our plan was. The man behind the hotel desk was able to book the last 2 adjoining rooms in the hotel. Finally guaranteed.

I ran to the car and told the kids about our surprise. They couldn't believe it. The whole trip was worth it just to see their faces.

We unloaded the car; everyone was practically jumping for joy! We took the elevator to the floor, raced down the hall. We opened the door and........the rooms were not adjoining. Now I was really frantic. I had told the kids. I had done everything in my power to avoid telling them about the surprise until it was guaranteed. The hotel clerk said he would see what he could do. Meanwhile, I wasn’t leaving anything to chance. I called back a few hotels that were more expensive, farther away but earlier had told me that they should have adjoining rooms, no guarantee of course. But now they were all Booked.

Fortunately, our hotel managed to find adjoining rooms on the 10th floor. The swimming pool was empty so we had a blast, the rooms were large and we had a refrigerator. It all worked out but at what price. I felt badly about yelling and tried to better understand why my reaction was so strong. I had made a mistake that many parents make.

I tried to save them from the disappointment of life. I tried to be in control so that they wouldn't be disappointed. Yet I could have taught them a much more important lesson in life. Life is full of disappointments and it doesn't always go the way that you expect it. We need to take it in stride. We need to learn that there is good in everything that happens. Sometimes we see it and sometimes we don't.

Btw: I heard that the other hotel was a real disappointment.

Scouts honor, from now on I will be perfect. We’ll at least I hope I learned a lesson or 2.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pesach #2

The Pesach experience was a great improvement over last year. “Firsts” are always the hardest. The second year is sort of like redefining yourself as a person. The first year you are not even a person. You have no definition.
We spent the first Seder by a family that we are close to who lost a child as well.
There was a moment when we almost lost it, all of is. It felt like a long, intense moment. It was the type that could be perceived in the air. We all knew that it was a make or break it moment. I think we all held it together for each other. The moment passed and the rest of the Seder and the one that followed were beautiful.
My Goal is to post at least 2x per week on Sunday and Wednesday.