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Archive for October 15th, 2008

Calendars are funny things.  The most widely used calendar in the world today is the Gregorian Calendar, which is a solar-based calendar.  The Jewish calendar is based on an adjusted lunar calendar, which sometimes makes it difficult to explain to people why it is that certain dates have significance to me, or why the dates that have significance to me may seem inconsistent at least as they relate to the Gregorian calendar. 

Last Thursday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.  The holiest day on the Jewish calendar.  This year, Yom Kippur fell on October 9th on the Gregorian Calendar.  That meant that the date marked two dichotomous anniversaries for me, showing just how far my world has turned around: 

October 9th marked 2 years since I had a miscarriage from my first pregnancy.  I wondered then if I would ever carry a pregnancy to term.  Truthfully, I suppose I should still be wondering that, because technically I haven't yet managed to do that.  But, last year on Yom Kippur, my two daughters were officially given their names.

You see, in Jewish families, girls are given their names in the synagogue after they are born.  The father is called up for an aliyah (an opportunity to bless the reading of the Torah),  a blessing is recited for the health of the mother and the child (in this case, children), and then if the child(ren) is a girl(s), they are formally named at that time.  Boys are named at their bris (usually 8 days after birth, unless their health prohibits it – Sam had his bris when he was about 5 1/2 weeks old)  This can be done on any day that the Torah is read:  Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and holidays.  My babies were born on a Wednesday, so Seth had intended to name the girls the next morning, but I had such a horrific night at the hospital that I'd called him in hysterical tears and he was with me at the hospital instead of naming the girls that morning.  Instead, he named them on Saturday, which was also Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year – indeed, an auspicious day to name our miracle babies. 

This week is the holiday of Sukkot.  Sukkot is a beautiful holiday – a festival commemorating the 40 years of wandering in the desert and the final harvest.   It is such a joyful holiday that it is referred to as the Season of our Rejoicing.  Sukkot used to be my very favorite holiday.  Everything about it was beautiful to me (well, everything except the esrog, which I'm allergic to).  But two years ago, October 9th fell on the third day of Sukkot, and for that, I'm not quite ready to forgive Sukkot.  This is the funny thing about the way that the Gregorian calendar and the Jewish calendar cross paths.  Which day do I remember?  Both are significant to me.  October 9th also happened to be Columbus Day that year.  Last year, Columbus Day was the day I had my 2 week post-partum check up with my perinatologist.  Somehow, I don't hold Columbus Day in contempt, but I never said I was logical.

Next week are the last of the Fall holidays on the Jewish calendar:  Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah.  Two years ago, on Shemini Atzeres, I was back in the emergency room with complications from the D&C from my miscarriage.  On Simchas Torah, I was back in my synagogue, pretending to care about anything there, but hating every second of it.  The singing and dancing with the Torah around me – I hated everyone for being so happy.  I hated the merriment.  I hated the oblivion.  I left that night, angry, sad.  Mostly sad.  Horrified, even.  Last Simchas Torah, my three babies were in the NICU.  Seth was at the synagogue with J, dancing with the Torah, while I sat in the NICU listening to a doctor explain to me that my tachycardic daughter needed a blood transfusion.  Though we'd known it might be coming, we'd had no idea it was coming so soon – if we had, we'd have asked permission from our Rabbi for Seth to carry a pager that day, but as it was, I had no way of reaching him.  So it was up to me to decide that despite the myriad of risks listed on the consent form, none of which would have bothered me in the least bit had I been signing the consent for myself – but all of which terrified me while standing next to my two and a half pound baby – she was to have a transfusion that day.  

Honestly, I'm not sure that I'll ever quite feel the same about Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah.  I still love them.  I still rejoice in them.  And there's a great deal of healing to be had in the birth of my three beautiful babies.  I'm very lucky.  But I admit, there's still a taste of bitterness in my heart.  I think it will be bittersweet for a while, but my hope is that the rejoicing of my children in the years to come will ultimately override any remaining bitterness.  Maybe someday I won't feel like my favorite holidays were taken away from me.  Maybe I won't even feel like October 9th is significant in any way.  It's funny how these calendars play tricks on us, you see.   

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