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On Happiness, Loss, and Mixed Emotions

A lot has happened to our family and me the past month.  Many happy events and also some not-such-happy events.

From birth, bris, haircutting ceremonies, engagements, marriage, and death – our family has experienced the vast life cycle in just one month. Many of my nieces and nephews had new babies, my grandson got his haircut at 3-years-old, and our son got married.

And sadly, my mother-in-law, the matriarch of our family, the force, the backbone, the constant presence in ours and our children’s and grandkids’ lives, passed away at age 97 1/2.  I plan to write more about my dear mother-in-law in a future post, but suffice it to say that with her passing, we’ve felt the gamut of emotions from sadness and shock at her brief illness and sudden passing, to confusion and overwhelm at the timing a few days before our son’s wedding, and to gratitude and acceptance that she lived a long and fulfilling life.

And these happy and sad events spurred many strong emotions. Life is full of paradoxes and happy events spur good feelings – along with a sense of loss. Sad events cause mourning and loss – along with a sense of acceptance.

Back to our happy occasion – our son got married. Mazel Tov! A myriad of emotions have spread across our hearts. First and foremost are the feelings of  overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude to G-d for helping and guiding us to this stage. Gratitude to family for supporting us emotionally while we raised this child and our others. Gratitude to friends for being there with us through thick and thin.

And mixed with all that happiness at our son’s marriage (Did I mention it is our youngest son?) was (is!) the feeling of “loss” of my position as his daily Mommy, and of my stature as the one and only woman in his life (And did I mention he doesn’t have any sisters?)

Till now, I was the one he called when he wanted to discuss something (besides his rabbi and friends of course!). I was his go-to person. No more. Now, it’s his wife. And of course – that’s the way it should be. Right? That’s what we pray for and long for. That’s what we want in life – that our children move on. But still. Still. Just because we want something, doesn’t mean when we get it – there won’t be a change in the dynamic that takes getting used to. Change implies loss of one thing and replacement of another.

Other  mundane losses for me surround our son’s marriage – ranging from my missing seeing his stuff in his room, to my longing for of his many phone calls to me during the week. In general, the idea of having him all to ourselves has now gone away. We have to share— share him with a wife, a new family and in-laws.

With loss comes sadness, void and emptiness. Sadness that things are not the same. Void and emptiness for the space that used to fill the busy-ness of taking care of that child. Change is never easy and when I acknowledge those changes and move gently with them, I know things will be good.  Then, I can fill those spaces with good things.

What are those good things? Time will tell. But for now, I’m acknowledging and even accepting the void, the lack, the space. The Quiet. The Emptiness.

It’s all good.


Over and Over

Some things in our lives just play over and over. I was reminded of that this morning when I went to my aqua aerobics class together with some of my empty nest friends (Oh yeah! It’s called “ARK” – as per my last post)

This class is otherwise known as my swimming exercise class. (it sounds fancier to call it “aqua aerobics.”) One of the buzz words used by our teacher is “circuit” training. Circuit means we go around in a circle and repeat certain routines over and over. I think we do the entire “routine” of exercises three times in the hour. Continue reading

“ARK”….. (Old-Age Redefined)

When I was growing up,  both my grandmothers lived nearby.  They were busy, active  and had set routines in their lives.  However, to me, they were —well, old.

In fact, at that time, I considered the elderly to be in one broad age bracket – 45 and up. Anyone above the age of 45 was “old” to me. Anyone above the age of 60, was “very old,” and anyone above the age of 70 was “ancient.” I don’t know when this self-created age chart  changed, but these days I don’t think any age is really old. I truly believe age is a state of mind, as cliche as that sounds. If someone is active at the age of 95 (and I know many who are extremely vital and active at that age), then to me they are not old…at least in the broad brushed sense that I perceived back in those childhood years of mine. Continue reading

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