Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lessons, Torah, Sandy... Modern Day Life Lessons

Attending a bar mitzvah this past Shabbat in a shul out of town I had many emotions that I wasn't expecting. The Rabbi began to talk about this week’s parsha, Chayei Sarah. As he was discussing Eliezer going out to find Yitzchak’s future, not just his wife, my mind began to wander. Rivkah reminded me of our children’s school, not only was she attentive to one aspect of the approaching stranger – but holistically.

When J and I got married and began our family 13 years ago, just two months shy of this Bar-Mitzvah boy’s birth, we had already had the opportunity to think about what our vision was for our children’s education. We had our Eliezer to help us scout out our children’s best option for a holistic education. Our Eliezer was the many families and even some friends who had already sent their children to this school, helping us gather information about this amazing place of learning. During our past 6 years and into our 7th we have become our school’s Eliezer as well. We have been part of this amazing community – a Rivkah that has not only shown us a holistic approach to education, but also community.

Our school has been our community and family through the tragic death of my grandmother erev pesach 2007, to Bean’s 10 day hospitalization in 2009 and diagnosis 8 months later to our latest health scare in 2012. Our school has seen our children holistically helping, guiding and supporting all 6 of us through learning disabilities, diagnosing ADHD, sever anxiety and behavioral issues that often come with each of these diagnoses.

But the parsha begins a bit earlier – it begins with Sarah’s death - the parsha says she had “a good life” and ends with Avraham’s death.

We were in NJ, where just like my hometown, Sandy brought alot of devastation. The Rabbi asked us what we would choose to bring if we hadonly 20 minutes before we had to evacuate, things that were not replaceable by insurance money (we weren’t talking lives but rather objects). He talked about prize possessions we would take, the family heirlooms.

My mind wandered from Bubbie’s candlesticks and the ones the kids made in 2nd grade to family pictures to the four, individual, boxes we have in our basement that contain our irreplaceable children’s creations for every chag, every American holiday, every topic of education from Picasso to the Colonies.

I could no longer hold in my emotions, as the next place my head went to, was what if Puppy’s box  didn't  get to be full of all these wonderful things…what if he  didn't  have a crown from his chaggigat hasidur? What if  didn't  get to have a t-shirt from star gazing? What if he  doesn't  get to make his candle sticks for his Kabbalat Shabbat ceremony?

And then I focused back into what the Rabbi was saying. The torah said Sarah had a good life. Was it the life that she had planned? Was it the life she was promised? No, she and Abraham  didn't  have the land they were promised nor the number of children, it  wasn't  the vision she had for her life. And those affected by Sandy, whatever their plan was for October 30th changed when Sandy hit on the 29th. In whatever capacity they were affected, weather that was not having power for two weeks, or lost their homes completely. And people had to grieve; everyone has the right to grieve.

Our own little world had a perfect storm on November 2nd. We made a mistake while giving Puppy his medicine, he  didn't  get 1/3 of it. And the shadow who has been in place to watch Puppy’s every move during this transition  wasn't  nearby. Puppy behaved inappropriately. A little boy told him something Puppy knew not to be true, and instead of either of them finding an adult to help – the verbal escalated, Puppy then grabbed him and stomped on his foot. Puppy’s behavior was not ok, it was not out of the range of age appropriate, but it was not ok. Even though he has progressed so beautifully, so.beautifully., these past 6 weeks his career at our beloved school is in jeopardy. And now my vision for what I had planned for his life, for his education for his future is changing.

I began to question our Rivkah and weather she is truly as holistic as we thought she was. Maybe Eliezer made a mistake with reading his signs…or maybe history of being holistic with others in the past is not representative of the future. But I don’t think so – I think there are other pressures.  

But I grieve that our Puppy will be the one to lose the opportunity of the future wehad planned for him. It is possible the other future will be an okay one for him; it is possible the other future may be a better one for him. But I can’t seeany of that yet; I can only see the doom and gloom that needs to be rebuilt after the storm.

Our school has such a great gift in our son Puppy as a student, not only is he an amazing kid with amazing gifts and qualities, his challenges, which he does have his share of – helps our Rivkah reveal some of her own hidden riches she might not have known she had.  

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches but reveal to them their own.” Benjamin Disraeli

So for now I grieve. I grieve for the change in plan, the change in vision, the feeling of Puppy being cheated of this wonderful future, this wonderful community. I grieve that this opportunity to help build community and teach children how each one of them has challenges, and how they can work as a team building unity and support for one another is being missed. And I cry, loudly and often.

But as the Rabbi said, Sarah saw her life as good, even though it  wasn't  the future she had envisioned. I pray that I will get there soon, for the strength to get there soon and the ability to support Puppy through his anxiety, fear and grief of a future he has too envisioned for himself that is changing – way beyond his or our control. And I cry, loudly and often.

"Never apologize for showing feelings. When you do so, you apologize for the truth." Benjamin Disraeli

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