Monthly Archives: September 2012 - Page 2

Day 61 – Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur.  In years past I fast and focus on self-reflection self-improvement.  There is plenty of work for me to do in that regard for me!  This year is all messed up.  I am not fasting because I cannot afford to loose any more weight.  As for focus, it is hard not to think about the impact of having cancer as opposed to the usual “what did I do wrong and how can I improve” mind thread.  Did I do something so terribly wrong as to deserve this diagnosis?  I am not working hard enough on self-improvement that I need a diagnosis like this to motivate me?  I don’t actually believe (at least not 100%) this is the case but like I said, this year is all messed up.

I sat in synagogue today for a few hours and let the Hebrew wash over me.  I’ll digress and say that I don’t really like going to services at my temple.  There is just too much Hebrew in the services.  Each time I go it reinforces the fact that I cannot read Hebrew and haven’t gone enough to have all the prayers memorized.  Why can’t English be used more?  Where is the harm in that?  Because of my deficiency, I sit in the congregation wanting to be part of the ceremony but can’t because I am ill equipped to do so.  I am hoping to bring this up as a suggestion when I take part in a subcommittee of the board.  Back to our regularly scheduled program… As I sit in temple not really being able to participate because I am lame, I have the opportunity to meditate.  I morph the traditional theme of Yom Kippur to… What do I really want for the future?  As I am going through all this cancer nonsense, one thing is abundantly and consistently clear… what I want is for my children to be happy.  I want them to live blissful, productive and satisfying lives.  I believe that being without a father is a roadblock to that… perhaps I am overstating my role or being incredibly arrogant but that is how I feel.  I am fine with them having to endure the pain of a sick father but I am not OK with them having a dead father.

In this synagogue, members of the congregation are invited up to join in Torah readings, with each of these invitations centering on a specific theme.  During the high holy days there are three themes; offering of misdeeds, acknowledgment of improvements made and healing for self or others.  I knew this was coming and spent the time leading up to that moment to reflect on what I might do.  Do I go up, acknowledge that I am sick and therefore in need of healing?  Or, do I stay in the audience as I always do and participate from afar?  There are two aspects of my personality at odds here.  On the one hand is the bold aspect of me that has no problem being front and center.  I am willing to try anything new and don’t get embarrassed but much.  I don’t care that people know I am sick and will see me on the stage accepting a spiritual gift.  On the other hand, there is the strong aspect of me that feels I can conquer anything.  I don’t need much help because I will just summon up strength and overcome whatever needs to be overcome.  I can endure just about anything… I have in the past and I will continue to do so in the future.  Before I go on… what do you think I chose today?




I chose to stay in my seat.  I didn’t go up on stage because I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was sick enough to go up there.  Stubborn?  I am sick no doubt but I am going to survive.  I am going to survive because of shear determination and hopefully some luck.  I am going to survive because the alternative is just plain unacceptable; I have too much to live for.  I am not going to go up and ask a higher power for help because I frankly don’t believe that a higher power has that ability.  A higher power provides each of us the opportunity to believe in something… and it is the belief that brings strength not some god.  I am not making a statement on whether I believe in god or not I am just saying that I believe religion and/or spirituality opens up doors within us.  It is those openings that bring forth goodness, strength, virtue, etc.

Now community is a different slant to the idea of going on stage.  The Mishkan community is amazing and highly spiritual.  I feel this energy every time I participate in any gathering related to Mishkan; services, high holy days, picking up my kids from Hebrew school, havurah.  Seemingly without exception, this community is incredibly powerful, spiritual and healing.  I do not however need to go on stage to feel the influence of this community and derive strength from it.  Instead, I feel the effects each time I have a touch point with anyone associated with the community.  Every person that chooses to be around Mishkan seems to have a spirituality and gift.  I feel it with every greeting, glance, hug (Mishkaners give great hugs!) and smile.  Mishkan is truly a special place…  But for me, the specialness (is that a word?) has little to do with Judaism but rather spirituality.  This is doubly true with our fantastic havurah.   Sure, this group is grounded in us all of being Jewish but again, religion doesn’t play a part for me.  Each person in this group is special in unique ways and it is an honor to be part of this group.

I also did some thinking about mortality today.  How long do I need to live in order to consider my life complete?  Is 60 too young or is that enough time to live?  Ten years from now both of my children will likely be out of college and establishing their lives as fantastic adults.  What about 70?  At 70 I might have witnessed a couple of weddings and perhaps even some grandchildren.  How long do YOU want to live?  Have you thought about it?  If you lived longer than whatever number you come up with would that be a good thing or a bad thing?  When you are diagnosed with cancer there is finality to your life up until the moment the doctors say you are cancer free.  You can pretend that you will live a “long life” but the truth is that there is a ticking time bomb inside you waiting to go off.  You hope that the various treatments you endure will kill the disease before it kills you but there are no guarantees.  For me, thinking about mortality is something I cannot avoid.  It doesn’t scare me to think about dying but I do think about it from time to time.  The reality is that we all have ticking time bombs in our bodies but cancer seems to bring this to the fore… at least it does that to me.

I continue to be humbled by the number of people who read this blog; thank you SO much for caring enough to slog through the drivel.  As always, feel free to contact me directly through email or the phone.  I love to hear feedback about the writings and feel free to take me to task about anything.  I have chosen to turn off “comments” on this site because that just feels wrong… I am not building a “community” but rather expressing myself.  I don’t feel the need to create a platform for public give and take.  I suspect you don’t need or want to have your feelings about what I am going through broadcast to all other readers…. Or perhaps you do.  Let me know.  I have also heard that some people are reluctant to reach out for fear that I will be overwhelmed or somehow be bothered.  All I can do is say… paaaaleeeeese.  Are you kidding me?  I love to hear from everyone and want to connect with as many people as possible.  Please do not be shy in any regard.  The worst that will happen is I will put you off because I am busy will all the doctoring nonsense.  Other than that, bring it.

A note on cancer logistics… I was supposed to do receive some intake testing for radiation therapy today.  They have moved this to 17 Oct for reasons they didn’t share with me.  Because there was no doctor visit today, I was able to go to services.