Whenever I prepare to marry a couple, I ask them many questions. One of which is always, “Where do you see yourselves on your 10th anniversary?” I ask this because I loved when this question was asked of me by the rabbi who officiated at my wedding. Well, this year, I celebrated my 13th wedding anniversary. When I got married 13 years ago, I’ll tell you what I did NOT write. I did not write that I saw myself in 10 (or 13) years living through a worldwide pandemic, struggling to decide whether my children attended school in person or online, and wearing a mask just to buy groceries. But you know what? There has been so much in my life that I didn’t expect. So many things in my future that I did not foresee:
In my teen years, I was in a car accident that left me with permanent injuries.
My first born was born during Hurricane Sandy. And we couldn’t take him back to our house because there was a tree in our kitchen.
My daughter was born with two dislocated hips.
My youngest son needed surgery during the second week of his life And will most likely need medication for the rest of his life.
These are just a VERY few of the things I NEVER saw happening. They were all hard at the point that they were occurring. And they all changed my life in some way. Also, in each of these situations, I felt utterly alone or at least pretty unique and I found myself somewhat envious at times of people that weren’t going through these situations.
But this time is different. True, I am going through something I never expected, foresaw, or can even believe most of the time. But this enormously important difference this time, is that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am not alone. I know this not only because my family is going through this crucially challenging time, but also my town, my city, my state, my country, my world. There is not one person I know or know of, that is not struggling for normalcy in this bizarre time in which we live.
And that makes an enormous difference. It used to be that when someone asked another person, “how are you?” The accepted answer was “fine.” We would often hide our difficulties in order to connect with the person with whom we were conversing. Now, I find that when we’re on many of our zoom meetings, people are honest. “How are you?” is met with “I’m having a hard time.” Which then yields the response, “me too.” It’s strangely a breath of fresh air to acknowledge that none of us are really ok. But knowing that we are all in the same boat somehow makes it a bit easier to deal with. So, yes, this is unbelievably hard. And, as I sit and write this bulletin article in August, I have no idea what September will look like when you read this. But I am sure of one thing. No one will be alone. We will be in it together.
I wish us all a new year where we find health and peace,
Rabbi Jaimee Shalhevet