I have book lists for all occasions, formed from whatever kept my attention during particular chapters of my life: college, pregnancy, parenting a newborn, as well as some less joyful times, too.…When my mother was seriously ill with leukemia, I read books by other people who had cancer. The writers didn't all survive, but their stories were beautiful, hopeful, grateful, and inspiring. After my mother's death, I searched sites like Kveller for keywords like grief, kaddish, and shiva. I found Modern Loss and was able to… >> Read More
When a Jewish person dies, the traditional way to grieve includes sitting shiva, a seven-day mourning period when visitors arrive to comfort and care for the bereaved. At the end of the week, the…mourners "get up" and resume more of their normal activities. Some people signify "getting up" by taking a walk around the block. But when I got up from shiva after my mother's death this spring, I ran a marathon. Let me explain. I signed up for my fourth full marathon two weeks before my mother's… >> Read More
They say laughter is the best medicine, but it’s hard to remember that when faced with life-threatening news.
When the dermatologist first said the word “melanoma,” my mind fizzed into a…state of paralytic shock, especially as this appointment was supposed to be a standard cosmetic procedure. The grayish/blue mole that emerged from my cheek had injured my vanity, but thoughts of it being anything other than a superficial nuisance never crossed my mind. “It looks dangerous,” the dermatologist frowned, lowering her hand-held light. “I recommend… >> Read More
I was nervous. The assistant principal running late, so I sat alone in a hard chair in a Brooklyn high school guidance office. I wiped my sweaty palms on my new suit, hoping I looked older than the…students. I tried to breathe as the minutes dragged on. A redhead with wild curls peered into the office, and raised her eyebrow at me. “I’m interviewing for the guidance position,” I told her. “I’m Paulette,” she said, leaning against the doorway. “I’m a counselor, too.” By the time the assistant principal came into the… >> Read More
In high school, I asked my mom to let me go to a Red Cross blood drive. “Giving blood is fine,” my mother said, “but you know Jews don’t donate certain organs.” “Wait, what?” I asked,…confused. “When the Messiah comes, he raises everyone up, and we need to be buried with all of our vital organs,” she told me. “The body is sacred; it’s not ours to give away.” That seemed odd to me because, well, eventually we are dust anyway. But I certainly didn’t want to violate any more Jewish… >> Read More