We've been living in an alternate universe for the past two years, give or take a few months. For me, the initial lock down came about a week before my 75th birthday, the party already planned. Our yearly pilgrimage to Peaceful Bakery here in Austin was already planned. Invites went out, rsvps came in. My friends Jihad and Naha were expecting us in their middle eastern restaurant.
And then, the City of Denton shut down our 35th Annual Storytelling Festival and as I drove home some 6-8 hours worth(Texas is a huge state) my mind raced through all the scenarios this pandemic could bring. Never, in a million years, could I have imagined that I can't plan my 77th birthday party because of this same pandemic.
Yes, I am vaccinated, even had my Moderna booster and my flu shot but this is Texas, a red, going on purple state. I still wear my mask. I do not eat in restaurants, even though some are now open. I don't shop in big stores. I have a neighbor who shops for me. Going to the gas station, the car wash and then Sonic for a Rte. 44 unsweetened ice tea is a big deal. Visiting my daughter, son-in-law and grandson here in Austin is a big deal. Having my son come from Houston to visit is a big deal even though his twin, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter haven't been able to visit from NJ for the past two years. Living in my one bedroom/one bathroom which I downsized to right before the lock down is my domain.
Why do I give you all this background? Because I want you to empathize w/ my frustration, my isolation. Thank G-d for Zoom. My Aunt Chick died on April 11th a week after her Aril 4th 98th birthday. I had to say Kaddish each day with a minyon. I connected with Rabbi Mira Riviera at Romenu in NYC. I've been a member of her Morning Minyon ever since. And as luck was with me, I reconnected w/ Rabbi Ellie Herb of Temple Beth Sholom of Salem, Oregon. He's a classmate of mine in the Maggid Training Program in Brooklyn. Our teacher died this past year. He, Yitzhak Buxbaum, had been a member of Romenu...more Kaddish, more death.
And my friends from my old school district in Newark, NJ, sustained many deaths. So many members of the African and Hispanic communities dead...so much death. It was like my time in the days of the AIDS crisis here in Texas, back in NJ. So much death, so little time between to process, to catch one's breath.
And here I was this past Monday, ready for back surgery. I had to pysch myself up yet again to meet the challenge. It was 5 a.m. when my daughter, Davide, picked me up to go to the surgery. It was hard, much harder than I ever remembered. It was just a year before that I had gotten out of hospital and rehab after breaking my hip. I was so tired of it all...sick of being sick.
And then, because of a scheduling glitch, the surgery had to be postponed. It was half my fault, half the fault of the Dr's office. It didn't matter. I HIT A WALL. I COULD NOT COPE. I TOOK A TRANQUILIZER LEFT FROM AN MRI SiTUATION AND SLEPT ALL DAY.
Did I mention I, ordained Interfaith Minister, Rabbi, Maggid could not cope. I am a trained professional and I couldn't cope. The wall was hard and high. There were lots of tears. There was a lot of self-beating oneself up. I could not cope.
Then, because HaShem loves me and heard my cries, my beloved sister-in-law, BT, called. She said she thought the whole world was feeling as I was feeling. She said she felt the entire world had hit the same wall. She assured me it would all be OK. She said she had heard an author discussing her book on TV. It was a book about the difference between depression and disappointment.
After sitting with my rather raw emotions for another day, here's what I realized. I am not depressed. I am disappointed. I was ready for my 75th and my 76th birthday parties. I was ready for my Aunt Chick to make it to her 100th birthday. I was ready for my friends to live out their days-not die an early death. I was not ready for all the death, all the fear, all the uncertainties. I WAS DISAPPOINTED IN THESE LAST TWO YEARS, and yes, the postponement of a surgery I had psyched myself up for. But I was not depressed and once I got that straight in my mind, the wall began to crumble, it began to fall down. It is not completely gone but it is well on it's way.
Please do not be depressed ... your flocks need you. But please allow yourselves to be disappointed. It's a very human emotion to feel. You will come out on the other side as your walls begin to crumble as well.
With many blessings and very great love,