Friday, February 24, 2012

The (Non-)Winter Blahs

Here in Boston, winter hasn't really happened this year, and I'm thrilled. Even with my Yaktrax, I hate snow and ice with a passion. So I feel a bit guilty complaining about having a case of the winter blahs, but there it is.

The month of February has gone by and I felt like we haven't done much. Of course, when last February meant Paris, everything else would pale in comparison. I could really go for some Pizza Pino.

And yet, we've still been busy. I had the opportunity to meet up with one of my childhood best friends, Sarah, who was in town on business. The last 15 years of our lives were covered over 45 minutes and coffee, and it felt really good to connect with someone from that part of my life. Marc and I also enjoyed celebrating our friend Nicole's recent birthday.

The kids are fine. Max had fun being "Star of the Week" at school, is still excited about learning letters, and has spent much of the last two months thoroughly obsessed with pirates. Hannah has been on vacation this week, and I took her to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum before she got to spend three days away with Fillis and John. One of her school art projects was selected to be displayed at the Newton Education Center, and there is a reception for that next week. And Marc bought a new car, but I'll leave it to him to tell that story.

I've been very busy with temple-related work, first on Share a Shabbat and then on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust remembrance). I watched about 20 hours of footage that was filmed for the movie "Tikkun," hearing the complete interviews from all 35 participants, and the stories are just amazing. "Tikkun" was the short version, just quickly showing how so many members of our community were impacted by the Holocaust, and our committee is hoping to do some longer form versions. Now that I've seen them all, I feel a strong responsibility to do something with them. The experiences are so varied, and I learned things about people I've known for a long time, but never had the opportunity to discuss. The stories are too important to sit unwatched.

I've been trying to continue to exercise, and yes, I still hate it. But I'm back to seeing a personal trainer, now on Thursday nights. Without that scheduled appointment, there is no way I'd bother going. Combining that with time I spend exercising while Hannah takes rock climbing on Tuesdays, I'm doing it twice a week. I'm not deluding myself into thinking that there will be any results from my exercise, but instead telling myself that it's better than not doing any at all. I'm still using my continuous glucose monitor, though it's been more of a struggle with it lately, so I've given myself 24 hour breaks when I need it. In general, it's made me a lot more responsible and diligent about taking care of myself, so I guess it's still a good thing, but when it's not functioning properly, it's really super annoying.

So that's the mishmash of updates from here. How's the winter been treating you?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

For Julia

This morning via Facebook, I received news that my dear childhood friend Julia had passed away after a year-long struggle with cancer. Julia lived in San Diego, and I hadn't seen her in person since 2006, when the above photo was taken at our 10 year Solon High School reunion.

Julia and I met while attending religious school at Fairmount Temple, in either third or fourth grade. I liked her immediately - we were both the teacher's pets in our class, and she seemed exotic, being a Russian Jew. In fifth grade when my parents bought a new house in Solon, she was the only person I knew who lived there, and I desperately clung to that information. I remember eating lunch with her and her group of friends in those first few days at my new school, trying to figure out where I fit in there.

We continued to attend synagogue events together, even though I can't recall us being very close during middle school. But during this time, I know that Julia became seriously ill. Looking back now, it was probably cancer then too, but I didn't know it at the time. I knew she missed lots of school, and lost her hair, but I don't remember knowing how serious it probably was. She was just my friend, the kind of friend where you just picked up where you left off when you had to.

During our freshman year of high school we attended a conference in Washington, D.C. and I remember we were feeling pretty full of ourselves. We were excited for this big trip away, it was my first time in D.C., and we took giddy pictures of ourselves standing on the fence outside the White House and at the Lincoln Memorial. We got a little lost hanging around in Baltimore, but I remember not being worried. When Marc and I went to that same area years later, I remembered the peace I'd felt there with her.

We carpooled back and forth from Beachwood to Solon for years. We wrote articles together for our BBYO chapter newsletter, the Chaia Chailights. I will never forget her excitement over her family's adoption of their first dog, Ruby, who she loved like a sibling. We had a fabulous time catching up at our 10 year reunion, and she was one of the first people I looked for when I joined Facebook in 2008.

Julia became an accomplished dentist, and I sought her advice when Hannah developed "shark teeth" before her fifth birthday. She got in a couple of heated debates on my posts over the years, but I always respected what she had to say. I sincerely hoped that someday I would be able to visit her in San Diego, where she seemed to be very happy with her parents and sister.

Last August, after writing yet another blog post on The Back, she wrote me to "stay strong and be patient." Julia, you were always the strong one. I am sorry we didn't get more time together, but I am very thankful for the many wonderful memories I will always treasure. My deepest condolences to all who knew and loved her. Rest in peace, and I hope Ruby was there waiting for you.