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Posts Tagged ‘hospital’

The truth does not always matter.

One of the first lessons I learned as a child was that no one ever heard my cries which left me feeling unheard and unseen. Sigh. I can still remember how my tears would fall uncontrollably with only me to soothe and quiet my spirit. This reality left me feeling shattered with a sense of aloneness that has stayed with me to this day.

Sadly, even though I feel supported and loved now, the past remains a quiet voice within my head. It reminds me that I am alone; I will always be alone. The open wounds of my earliest memories have never left. While there is no question that I was loved and adored by my brother and father, neither of them kept me safe from my mother’s wrath. Mental illness and addiction had a stronghold on my mother and made her a volatile monster. I don’t think that I ever had a moment in which I felt safe in her presence.

December 2016 - looking outMy adult years have been profoundly different. Even though the sense of aloneness seems to always be part of my inner being, it shouldn’t be. The truth is that today, I feel love surrounding me – always.  And thanks to social media, I always feel seen and heard; in fact, I can’t hide. 😊

Case in point, I was totally blown away with the support I was being offered when I had to have a hysterectomy about ten years ago. At the time I lived in the Washington, DC area where I had a close-knit group of friends. But my close friends from my Jewish educator circles wanted to come in from New York, South Carolina, California, and Washington State. I could not have asked for anything more precious then to be loved by these friends. In the end, my friend Idie from New York stayed with me and tried to keep me from pushing myself post-surgery. I am kind of surprised that our friendship sustained that experience; I’ve never been known for my patient ways.  Another distinct memory I have from that surgery was waking up alone in the hospital room with intense nausea. I felt horrible. But I wasn’t alone for long. A friend of mine showed up to take care of me. Pia held my hand, put cold compresses on my head, and loved me until the nurses could get my nausea under control. That’s love.

Again, when I lost my job in Tucson, Arizona in 2014, my friends supported me financially, making it possible for me to survive. One friend allowed my family to live in her second home without cost to us. Other friends helped me fundraise what I needed to make it through. Another two friends found me contract positions which allowed me to support my family. People showed up to help us unpack our car and to simply be with us. When we had to put down our beloved dog Shachar, our friends David and Jennifer drove two hours to make sure we were not alone in our sadness. While losing my job in Tucson was scary, it was made so much easier because of the love that was showered on the Gal-Or/Grossman household. I will never forget how blessed I felt.

Over the last several decades, I have story after story of how my beloved friends showed up for me.  And yet, those earliest memories remain. It doesn’t matter that I know the beliefs are total bullshit.  Intellectual knowledge can’t replace the imprinted memories of the inner child that was so battered and bruised.  My friend Mary put it beautifully when she said, “It sounds like your support network helped diminish the volume of those painful earlier memories.” I think she is 100% correct.

Now my work is to trust the “real truth”. I am surrounded by love; I am not alone.

I got this!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Living Out Loud: A Thriver’s Journey. If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, AND if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

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Your energy introduces you. . . .Truth.

While I am far from perfect, I tend to walk into almost any new environment with warmth and love in my heart. I can’t help but smile at babies or any child, seniors, and animals. Beauty always brings tears to my eyes and authenticity jazzes my soul.

With each step, I remember that my energy is what people meet first.

I love that people are drawn to my energy. My only hope is that I wish I could be healthier, more vibrant, and even more inspirational. And yet, I also love that even if I am not all of these things, I still have the ability to make strangers smile, dogs wag their tails, and children play with me.

On a good day, I make new friends wherever I go and sometimes, I am blessed to connect with a new soul friend with barely a word spoken.

Beauty surrounds me.

On a bad day, I can become hyper-focused and forget that regardless of what is happening, life is not all about me or what I need to accomplish. My hope is that when I get like this, I can turn it off quickly. Sometimes I am lucky enough to do just that.

A few years ago, I visited one of my congregants post surgery. As she laid surrounded by loved ones in ICU, I walked into the room. With tears in my eyes, I was instantly transformed. I remembered another time and place when I had no words for my own family who painfully and awkwardly stood vigil for one of our loved ones. But within moments, I asked the family if I could pray with one of the most beautiful souls I knew. And when they said yes, I found myself chanting and praying with an intensity that felt right for that moment. Fortunately, this horrific chapter had a happy ending; my congregant was able to not only live, but thrive again.

Pain and memories are part of life.

For some reason, the above hospital visit touched me deeply. Walking into this congregant’s hospital room nearly paralyzed me. And yet, I quickly realized that there was no time for self-absorption; this was a time for unconditional love. In fact nearly every time I walk into a new environment, I find myself propelled towards warmth and love.

Over time, connections evolve and become grounded in a beautiful reality. But it is always my hope that when you meet me, you will meet a sweet energy that makes you want to get to know who is walking through the door.

 

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Aryeh with Pita

Always in tie dye, this time on a camel
Summer 2012, Israel

For well over three years, my son Aryeh fought the fight of his life.  As he struggled between life and death at times, I began to see the world through renewed eyes.  Our family felt virtually alone as we dealt with the daily agony of our teenage son and Dovi’s brother.  We navigated each day with endurance, yet we were in pain too.

While the darkness felt impermeable at times, it wasn’t.  There were so many angels that entered our lives, sometimes for a moment and some of them are still active in our lives to this day.  There were friends cooked our food, others that created a fund to offset the costs of Aryeh’s medical bills, and still others that were there at the drop of a hat.  Some of our closest friends couldn’t be present, but virtual strangers opened up their arms to help.  We felt surrounded by love so much of the time.

One of the most loving acts came the day we came home from Aryeh’s first brain surgery.  We had been forced out of the hospital too soon because the “only” bed available was in a room with another teenage boy who couldn’t stop screaming due to his own agony.  The boy’s screaming paralyzed our son in so many ways.  While we were in the hospital someone was supposed to come over with food and fill our refrigerator, but she became too anxious because of our significant food allergies/needs and instead brought nothing. We came home physically and emotionally wiped to no food; it shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it was.  Aryeh was not ready be home and we were all in pain.  I remember Michael, Aryeh’s father, calling our friends Paula and John; he was so distraught at what was going on and they rushed over with enough food to sustain us for days.  They looked at their house and used all the food they had and then some to prepare for our needs.  Paula and John continued to cook for us for years and probably would continue if we lived a little closer.  🙂

Following this day, our friend Wicca (and maybe someone else) organized all of our food for months and months.  People took care of us; they tried to take care of Aryeh.  Aryeh was too sick; it was years before he was ok.  Later we needed to go from Washington, DC to Los Angeles and people helped us every step of the way.  We couldn’t have made it emotionally, physically, or financially if people weren’t there.  One special angel was my friend Miriam who was with me as Aryeh quite literally fought for his life in an LA hospital and then opened up her home for us to stay for weeks following surgery.

Every step of the way, people were there.

Our friend John and his sons opened up their home to Dovi.  Dovi must have stayed at their house for weeks if not months during Aryeh’s illness.  They never asked for a dime; John just assumed he had three sons.  And later when were able to celebrate Aryeh’s life, John and his housemate Patrick, opened up their home so that we could have a Celebration of Life Party in honor of Aryeh’s recovery.

Amy gave and gave in so many ways; as did our friends Stuart and Lisa. Idie and Tamar came for the holidays so that we would have the holidays; Pesach was the hardest, but you would have never known because of how they chipped in to take care of us in every way.  People were coming out of the woodwork to help support us through hell.

A few friends drove two hours to the hospital to drop off food even though we couldn’t be with them.  Some people drove Dovi to and from where he needed to go.  A couple of Marines dropped off a large screened TV because Michael went on Freecycle and shared our story.  When Aryeh came home initially after the first surgery, he struggled to see; these two strangers gave us a TV so Aryeh would be able to see it.  And then they stayed and just hung out with our teenage son.

Simple acts of kindness go a long way.

In those years of serious illness, I learned that a smile makes a difference.  A hug can make everything better if only for a moment.  A pack of colorful, silly tissues are worthy of having in your hand.  A box of citrus chamomile tea warms your heart.  Mandalas made by friends and strangers surrounded our family with healing powers while hundreds of my Jewish Educator friends from all over the world sang a healing song for Aryeh as struggled in ICU for his own healing.

We were surrounded by love and care.  Aryeh’s friends made him tie-dye sheets that are still with him to this day; in fact, we made sure he was wrapped in his sheets even as he laid intubated after his second surgery.  Nothing about this time was easy, but we made it through because of simple acts of kindness by some of our closest friends as well as some strangers. Some made time to sit with us and be present sometimes in silence and sometimes to play games.  Others made sure our daily needs were met.  The bottom-line is that even when we felt alone, we weren’t alone, not really.

Each and every act made a difference.  Strangers, friends, loved ones sustained us when we had little hope.  And new friends joined us as we healed.  I will forever be grateful for Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation where I worked during the beginning of Aryeh’s illness and Bethesda Jewish Congregation where I worked during the healing years.  Both communities were loving, kind, and present when our family needed them.

Simple acts of kindness allowed us to focus on healing from what could have been a tragedy.

May each of us be blessed to touch another’s life for good! May we remember that we can make a difference when we choose to step up to the plate.

With love, light, and gratitude

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