I am 34 years old today. It was a quiet day with some wonderful surprises and much needed distractions. The last two weeks have worn me down and I feel like I have perpetual dark circles under my eyes from lack of rest, but I’m still here and so is my mom and that’s all that matters.
I have mixed feelings about my birthday every year. It’s not that I don’t like aging, it just brings on a flood of memories, happy, neutral, and sad. Maybe one day I’ll write about it, but this is not that day.
One thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind is whether or not what I’m doing is making a difference. I don’t need to change the whole world, just touching one tiny piece of someone’s life would be enough. I don’t know why this has been on my mind lately. Maybe it’s because my mom’s health struggles have caused me to start looking at end of life care. Maybe it’s because I feel so overwhelmed and ill prepared to take care of her. I just want to know that what I’m doing is making some sort of tiny difference somewhere. It’s hard to see the bigger picture sometimes.
There’s an email I got a few weeks ago that I’ve been holding onto. Temple has these small groups that are using a curriculum called Facing Our Truths, which is an examination of race, both in and outside the Jewish community. In the penultimate session, participants are asked to watch two sermons by Jews of Color. One of the sermons is by Ariana Cook, the chair of the Within Our Walls And Beyond antiracism task force and was given last year on Juneteenth. The other sermon is the one I gave in January 2019.
I cry every time I read this. I don’t think my sermon and what I did or am doing even comes close to what Rabbi Olan accomplished in his life, but I’m humbled by the comparison. I’ve been coming back to this email when I feel empty and drained, particularly these past two weeks.
I’ve also been witnessing close friends doing and accomplishing some absolutely amazing things and it makes me happy to know them. Watching them has helped a lot these past two weeks.
One final thing that has been a comfort lately is the people who have sent kind messages to me and letting me know that they are here whenever I need them. Some of them are people I already knew I could count on, but a few have been people I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of in that way. This past hospital stay for my mom really forced me to think about what life might look like after she’s gone. At one point, she said that she knows I’ll be okay because my career is going well and I have support. I dissolved into tears and all I could think was that she can’t die, she can’t leave me alone. After my grandma died, my extended family slowly dropped from my life and I have no interest in reviving those relationships. But I do have my Temple family and the greater Jewish community, plus some amazing doctors who continue to help me overcome my mental health struggles. I will be okay in the end.
Here’s to another year filled with adventures, milestones, and surprises.