Sunday, April 28, 2019

Highlander. & Jews. & Dying. But hopefully, mostly Highlander.

Of the many life lessons of "Highlander", one of the more poignant is when bonnie Heather, on her deathbed, asks an ever-creepy Chris Lambert to "light a candle for [her] on [her] birthday."

This request - and the fact that Lambert keeps this promise for, I dunno...millennia? - was near and dear to my heart as a child, long before I knew it echoed a Jewish practice.

You see, Jews honor birthdays AND death days.

For all you goyim, a death day is called a yahrzeit, and on it you light a candle for your lost loved one. You also attend temple and speak that loved one's name aloud. Then the congregation stands to join you in your sorrow and your remembrance.

With this tradition, your memories become the shared memories of the collective Jewish people, and your loss is a loss shared by the entirety of the world.

(Typically, Queen's "Who Wants To Live Forever" isn't part of the service, but if Freddie Mercury had been around a few thousand years ago, I'm pretty sure it would be.)

Anyway, it's a beautiful practice.

It keeps loved ones alive in a very real way, and speaks to my soul so deeply that I lack the words to impart it to you.

If only for a brief moment, those we've loved and lost are not really gone, but instead are present and precious to all who have gathered.

For me, it's the closest I'll likely come to seeing those people again.

Judaism calls on us to be a light in the darkness and - by lighting a candle in someone's memory - that person's light continues to shine on our dark, imperfect world, long after that person is "gone."

It's fucking beautiful.

It's beautiful in "Highlander," and it's beautiful in synagogue.

And it's just one more way in which I know I was always supposed to be a Jew.

Someone I love recently told me how much I've changed - that I'm not the same person he's known for 30+ years.

I respect that take, but I don't necessarily agree with it.

Because I'm more "myself" now then I ever was before - and I'm that same little girl watching "Highlander" with her father, crying as bonnie wee Heather breathes her last.

I'm not as lost as that little girl.

Not as confused.

But my heart is the same - and it comforts me to know that, when my time comes, my blessed Connor MacLeod will light a candle for me on my birth and death days. (He already promised he would.)

I hope my memory is "a blessing" as the memories of those who have gone before are blessings to me.

I miss them.

I think of them often.

I even talk to them, though they have not answered back.

One of those I miss most - Wanda - her yahrzeit is coming up. And Madison's isn't far behind.

I'll light candles for them and say their names.

Queen asked "Who Wants To Live Forever" - welp, not me. But with the time I've got left, I am honored to be a living vessel of their memories. I'm honored that my life in some ways extends the length of theirs.

I first learned that lesson - that the living extend the lives of the dead - from "The Last Unicorn," but that's another blog for another day.

There's more to say. Some profound thing about mysticism, and God, and the eternal nature of love.

But I'm not smart enough to say it, so you fill in the blanks however you want.

All I know is, there are people and practices that imprint themselves on your very soul.

And I am glad to have a few.

If you're one, I hope you'll light a candle for me, 'cause you know I'll light one for you.

War of the Words

Wars aren't won with words - but communication coulda prevented some of 'em.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Not Alike

I'm getting worse.


Seeing the doctors

who either don't know or don't care.

When you don't get help, you do the research yourself.

But that's how I was disabled to begin with.

A few perplexing symptoms

a few docs who wouldn't listen/do anything

a doc who yelled at me: "Don't read the warnings. You'll never take another med again."

Same doc snidely says see a gastro.

I do.

And I ask him for antibiotics.

Because could this be an infection? No other docs have any ideas. Other than "psychosomatic." Which I'm not buying.

A few weeks -a few twists and turns and mistakes by me and my doctors later - and I am disabled.

4 years later and it's getting worse.

Always worse, despite prayer. Or treatment. Or avoiding treatment.

Don't go back to doctors - they won't believe you or won't care.

Go back to doctors, desperate for help - they won't believe you or won't care.

The guilt is irrepressible.

If only if only if only...

I read the stories of others who suffered likewise: Keller. Roosevelt. JFK.

How often did Roosevelt regret going on that one swim?

I don't know how much more time I have on this earth.

And if I leave it soon, what legacy have I left?

What was the point?

Why all the pain?

What did I bring?