For all intents and purposes, my family is made up of two people: my mom and me. I stopped speaking to the majority of my extended family several years ago. The reasons are complicated, but it’s ultimately been a good thing to not have their negativity around me. However, this does make the holidays hard to cope with.
One of the reasons I converted was that Judaism seems to have a built-in global family. It still amazes me that I can go to Israel and it’s more likely than not that I’ll play Jewish geography with someone who has a mutual friend. Judaism is a communal religion for the most part, with a lot of ritual aspects that require more than one person to be present. I’ve found this to be incredibly frustrating at times, especially when I’m in the midst of a religious identity crisis or in the middle of a crowd. Still, I’ve found the family that I’ve been searching for since my grandma died right here in Temple and around the world.
I’ve forced myself to think about what will happen when my mom dies. It’s not that I want it to happen, it’s just that we both recognize that it may come sooner rather than later and we need to be prepared. It will be emotionally devastating for sure and I’m worried that when that day comes, I may not be able to function. My mom is the person I run to when I’m upset or scared and I worry that her death may push me into another trip down the rabbit hole of depression.
But I know I will be surrounded by my chosen family, people who have proven that their love and support is unconditional and I am so incredibly grateful for that.