Monday, September 24, 2012

where the anger melts. Long Island, Sept 2012

There have been at least ten times I have started a blog entry in my head over the passed few days. I never write them down, thinking I am sure I will remember it. yah... well, getting older. I am pretty sure this isn't the way I started them out! They were witty, or engaging, or willowy...

Truth is that at this moment, I not only cannot conjure up all those genius ideas, but I am also just very tired. That means that my usual spry wit is dull. Yeah, yeah, that's my excuse! Yeah.....

The biggest news is that my mother is home from the hospital, and she is doing well. She actually came home the day I arrived! When I walked into the door at 11pm last Wed night, she and my father were waiting for me. That was just so lovely.

My mother is much more together than I had feared. We have had many conversations, and she is very much interested in engaging with people. She cannot walk, though, and that is one of the biggest, if not *the* biggest problem she faces. She is stuck in one room of the house, and cannot go outside (there are stairs at each exit from the house). She is scheduled to go back to a rehab facility, hopefully soon. Her last step was eight months ago.

I told her about when I was in bed for three weeks without getting out, and how I couldn't walk after that. I completely understand how it feels to be told to step down on the ground when you feel there is nothing that will hold you up. Atrophy happens so quickly. And I reiterated that for me it was only after three weeks. I am trying to help her gain the courage to try again. I did a little physiotherapy with her, and made her push herself a little more. The woman in the house taking care of her does the PT with her every day, but doesn't push her enough. I told my mother she has to work HARD herself if she wants to walk. Nothing passive about it. Tomorrow a physiotherapist is coming to the house, and I will be there, along with asking my mother's care-taker to join us.

One interesting experience was that I learned that my mother did not know the story of what happened to her. She knew she almost died, but didn't know how or why. I was shocked- I thought for sure my father, or someone would have told her.

So I told her. Everything, from the beginning. I answered all her questions. From how it came to be that one day she was walking around the house and dealing with a pesky urinary tract infection, and a few days later she was in a coma with sepsis. She knew none of it. She also doesn't remember that I came to be with her in March, but I didn't expect she would.

She was very grateful to know the whole story.
Everyone needs to know their story.

That brings me to my own story. Not the one which this blog centers on, but a much older one. The one of me growing up here, in this very neighborhood, in this very house.

It has been an amazing trip of nostalgia for me. I feel that things have finally come full circle. I am no longer fighting with ghosts from my past. Starting from when I first arrived here Wednesday night, things felt *good*. Having my mother at home was a plus, but it went deeper than that.

I have been finding myself sort of taking a tour of my life. In fact, I wonder if my mother is doing that. also. (her own life, not mine) I'm not sure why sometimes it seems appropriate to do that, and other times looking back only draws you back into less positive times. But for me, this tour has been feeling very good.

I looked in the closet in my room. Actually Nina, my mother's home aide, is living in that room now, and I am staying in my brothers' room. I needed to get into the closet there because all my kosher plates and pots are in that closet. As I looked around, I saw an old crocheted poncho which my best friend's mother crocheted for me (Claud!!). That brought me to feeling how it was when I used to wear it.
I also found my mountain hiking boots. Many trips flashed through my mind just taking them out of the brown paper bag they were in. I am hoping to bring those back to Israel with me.
A trip to the local CVS drugstore brought me past the Jr High and High school I attended. It was at 3:00pm; quittin' time for the high school students. Wow, was I like *that*? I saw all sorts of kids! The cheerleaders in their little skirts and sparkly white sneakers (I wasn't one of them), the kids with band instruments (I was one of them), the awkward kids looking a bit goofy, and lots of throngs walking together. Throngs are really important in high school! I remember that.

Then I put on the radio in my Dad's old Honda. Pow! Talk about bombarding blasts from my past!

Classic rock station: brought me back to the days in Jr. high and high school. I literally saw faces and venues connected with hearing certain songs. I wondered about this person and that person, and kept whimsically thinking about the beach near where I live, Sea Cliff Beach, where my friends and I spent so much time "hanging out".

Move on up the radio tuner (I almost said radio dial, but even my father's car has a digital tuner), and we get to a beautiful Beethoven piano quintet. I am immediately transported to my days, also in high school, spent at the Juilliard school pre-college division. It was there I got my first real taste of classical music. I must have heard this particular quintet while I was there because it was so vivid for me- I experienced the feeling, smells, and the feeling of those practice rooms in the Juilliard building. I lingered on that part of the dial tuner until the quintet and all it's movements was finished. It felt GOOD. It felt like *me*. I was enjoying seeing myself back in Manhattan carrying my horn, being part of a very exciting music scene. My mother used to wait for me all day while I learned and practiced. She would drive me in at 6am and take me back home 13 hours later. She stayed in the lounge and knitted. The finished product is a beautiful turtle-neck heavy woolen sweater, which I have in my closet in Be'er Sheva. I don't wear it much; I do live in a desert, but when it is bitterly cold, for like- two hours-, I wear it. At least once each winter. And I still call it my "Juilliard sweater".

Traveling on to the next radio station after the Beethoven quintet finished, the next search brought me to some very cool jazz. Again, transported! It was such an unbelievable journey, this one I had at the radio of my father's car.

This one led me to my little studio apartment in Manhattan. It was the year 1990, and the Berlin wall had come down the winter before. I was going to a graduate school program at the Mannes School of Music. Turns out that it wasn't for me, and I only stayed there one semester, but it was an intense semester. I listened to a lot of jazz those few months, and worked as a cocktail waitress in a bar called "The Blue Note".  The apartment was a tiny studio on Amsterdam ave, at 101st street. I *loved* it. I played jazz on my stereo all the time. My brain took me on a tour through the times I had guests there, and who I hung out with in those days. I tell you, it may sound blahblahblah to you, or boring, because, well, we *all* have memories, but this was all just so vivid. For me, it was the first time that I literally was watching my life go by, and I wasn't sad. None of these things on this "tour" made me melancholy or sad in the slightest. Quite the opposite- I just kept wanting to savor the experience of my senses for just a little bit longer.

                                   I am at peace.
I am at peace.
                                                              I am at peace.       

I am constantly reminded of something I have written about before on this blog- that I am no longer angry. Going through a horrendous health experience changed me for the better. I see that it has with my mother, also. I feel a shift in her; a shift that happens when your soul realizes the only true important things in our lives is family. My mother seems to have dropped her anger as well. What is left is our fragile lives, deeply reaching out to each other for meaning, for closure... for being open. I am open to her, and she is open to me. It is just tremendous, and simple.

The rest of this trip will also be seeing more family and friends. Oh- I forgot one other wonderful thing that happened here... my great friend from school came to spend Shabbat here in my parent's house with us. It was so special. She left her kids back home in Jersey, and we made Shabbat together! We set up the table in the room where my mother stays so she could join us from her bed. My father joined us as well, and it was very, very special. I lit my mother's candlesticks. I made kiddush with my parent's kiddush cup, and the challah cover was a white linen napkin on which my grandmother embroidered the corners. I loved our Shabbat together, I am so glad you came, Dev!! 

Going to spend Yom Kippur in Manhattan with my brother Peter. On his block, also, lives another childhood friend (this one I met when I was 3 years old!) who I also plan to see. Looking forward to having some brother time. My other brother couldn't make it in to NY this time, unfortunately.

So much more to write, but I have to sleep.
I pray I don't get my fourth migraine since I've been here, tomorrow morning! Each morning there is a pattern of waking up at 4 or so with a screaming migraine. Then I try to take pills and try to get myself back to sleep. It takes a few hours, but blessedly I fall asleep and wake without the headache. I am suspicious of the new medicine I started before I left (I had a migraine at home before I left, also), but I am not sure. It is possible I have been dehydrated. I tried much harder today to drink lots, so let's hope that is all it is.

Other than that, I have been relatively out of pain. Raising the dose of Fentanyl is exactly what I needed. I still take Lyrica for break-through pain since the new nerve pain med isn't in full force yet, but I am doing OK, baruch Hashem.

May everyone have a meaningful fast on Yom Kippur, and that this year should be a year of complete recovery, and enjoyment and pride (nachas!) from our children. I have learned that you don't need much more than that. Just health, and good things from your children.

G'mar Chatima tova, (may you have the benefit of a good "inscription" in the "book of life", by the end of the holy-days).


  1. I am so glad you've had this time back home, Sarah. Those of us who live so far away know how special these moments are.

    I didn't know you were at Mannes in 1990; I was living at International House (lots of Mannes and Manhattan SoM students! -that's where I met Alon Reuven!) and going to Bank Street College.

    And, I'm so glad you've been able to be home for the holidays, and that at least, some of the pain is getting better.

    Thank you (as always) for sharing.



  2. Amazing blog post! One of your best ever! So happy for you! Curious which songs exactly brought you back to those adolescent years.Can't wait to hear about it in person when you get back.

  3. sounds so good! B'ezrat hashem this is your entry to the new year. it should continue with be a happy and healthy one.

  4. Thank you for the beautiful post, Sarah.

  5. glad things are working out. My adventure starts tonite.

  6. So glad to hear that your trip is going well, and that your mom is "there" and that you are finally finding PEACE.

    Gmar Chatima Tova!!

  7. Amazing. May things only continue to get better, day by day, year by year.

  8. It was beautiful to read the peaceful energy you radiate from far away!


  9. How wonderful for you, to have found peace. May it stay with you as your life continues to be good.

  10. Sare, it was a joy to spend Shabbat with you and your parents. And that serene and loving energy you wrote this blog entry with was also present and palpable this Shabbat in your childhood home and with your parents. May it be the beginning of a beautiful New Year of good health and blessing for you and your family, and for Klal Yisrael!

    Hope you had an easy and meaningful Yom Kippur,best to Claude and Peter,

    dev :-)