Thursday, February 14, 2013

Expectations and Compromise

Every marriage is going to have different expectations and compromises.  For Rachel and I, the phrase "We want" was much more common then the idea of "I want".  In fact I am having a lot of trouble adjusting to thinking in terms of "I".  Most of the time when I have been asked "How are you doing?" I would respond by talking about how either Rachel or Channah were doing.  I spent a lot of time today, thinking about 3 different times, Rachel and I disagreed on what to do and how we compromised on a solution.  

Aliyah  -- Before we got engaged, Rachel and I discussed our future together.  There was one major hurdle.  While Rachel wasn't ready yet, she wanted Aliyah to be an option on the table. At the time, I wasn't really interested so I agreed to put it on the "10 Year Plan".  As our 10th Anniversary approached, we realized that we were not happy living in Toronto.  A few weeks after our Anniversary we made the final decision that it was time for us to go.  5 weeks later we were on an airplane.  My Father-in-Law described our Aliyah plans as "Fire, Aim, Ready."  While the last four and a half years have not always been easy, it was in the place where we could be the happiest.  Today marks the day where Channah has lived in Israel half her life.  She has thrived in her environment. Jazz, Violin, Ariel (Youth Group) and very special friends have helped her break out of her shell in the past year.  These are opportunities we would never have been able to give her in Toronto.  She is a really a special kid and I am glad that Rachel helped turn her dream into a reality.

Channah' Name --  A year before Channah was born, we went to the first ever A TIME Shabbaton.  I heard a Dvar Torah, that I decided I would give at Channah's baby name. Channah was born on the Shabbat of the 2nd ever A TIME Shabbaton. That Monday I gave over the Dvar Torah at her Baby naming. 

The night before the Baby Name (which Rachel was unable to attend because she was still in the hospital), Rachel contemplated giving Channah a 3rd name. I had learned from one of my Rabbi's that it was really important to call a person by their full name because their name defines the essence of who they are. This concept was important to me for at least a couple of month's after she was born.  We also had a disagreement on how we were going to spell her name.  I wanted the traditional spelling Chana with one N. She wanted Channah with 2 Ns which is actually closer to the proper Hebrew pronunciation. 

We decided to compromise. We would ask the next nurse to walk in the room, if we should go with 2 or 3 names. We would go with her decision.  One of us would get the spelling and one of us would get the name. Ami walks into the room and decides that three names is  "too long."  Who knows what would have happened if Bianka (the other nurse on duty that night) had been the first one to come in.

When we made Aliyah, people kept asking us how we were going to spell her name.  Rachel started telling people that we were going to spell it with a silent koof   (חנקה) Hunka.  Our friend turned to us and said "I had a Bubbie Hunka" It helps if you flex a muscle while you say it. 

Valentine's Day -- I wanted to have no part in celebrating Valentine's Day.  Rachel agreed, on condition that Tu B'Av would never be ignored.  Rachel's Mom used to receive flowers on the birthdays of her children.  My Father-in-Law figured after all she is the one who did all of the work.  So, on February 14th every year, I would buy flowers for Rachel for Channah's birthday. In the last little while I had gotten back into the habit of buying flowers for Rachel for Shabbat. The last time I bought flowers it was late in the day and they had run out of bouquets.  They scraped one together from a bunch of singles they had here and there.  I remember thinking that they were even nicer than what I normally buy.  As I passed the flower shop on my way home from the bank, I had a tinge of sadness realizing I would not be buying flowers anymore. 

Getting married at age 19 & 20 opens yourself up to a lot of criticism about getting married too young.  My Mom told me that we would have a special opportunity to grow together. Our marriage was far from perfect, especially as Rachel battled with depression.  At age 35 I can look back, at least knowing that we were able to function as a unit.  While that unity makes the loss all that much more painful, it is a goal that many people are not lucky enough to reach.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Not Your Everyday Banking

Losing the person that has by your side for half your life and facing the reality of being a single father to a 9 year old is really scary.  I very quickly assembled a list of things I no longer have Rachel to take care of and new situations I need to now face.  My therapist said that I was pushing myself too hard and that it was not good for me.  She is right.  I have been trying to limit the number of things I worry about on any given day. 

I had not told the bank about Rachel's passing.  However, I had a check that only could be cashed by her, plus Channah had received a check as a birthday present. I decided to be brave, as I promissed her that I would go to the bank and deposit it today.

I went in to the bank.  I was fairly calm at first.  I was 2nd in line waiting for one of two people, who could help me.  As this was an Israeli line, I was very careful to note who was in front of me.  At some point the person behind me managed to slip in front of me without me noticing. This mistake on my part caused two things to happen.  It allowed someone, to come over to talk to me for a few minutes. I generally appreciate human contact with people who really care.  It also meant, that I met with the person that I have met with the last bunch of times I have been to the bank.

I hand her Rachel's Direct Card (Debit Card) with the death certificate and say that they probably want it back.  She looks at the paper and asks me if Robert was my Father-in-Law.  While it was true, I thought it was an odd question, which was quickly followed by a half-hearted condolence.

She looks at the paper for a few more minutes.  It finally sinks in what was happening.  The death certificate has a weird layout, where the father's name is in the place where you expect the deceased name to be. Her faced dropped. She asked me what happened.  This time I had a sincere heart felt condolence.  Then her phone rings, she picks it up quickly and says I can't talk now, I have to go.  About 30 seconds later her phone rings again.  She apologizes to me and explains that it is her mother calling and if she doesn't answer she will keep calling.  She picks up the phone.... "Tomatoes, cucumbers........"

As we got back to business she explained to me that they never see death certificates.  The information is automatically passed on to the bank where they take appropriate action. She had to ask her manage if she should proceed manually or not.  She told me to go outside, to the ATM and deposit the check, as she began the paperwork to adjust the account.  This would be the last time a check in Rachel's name could be cashed.

While she was processing the account, she asked me if I wanted to open up a new bank account.  Rachel's name will remain on the account forever.  She was worried that it could be painful, to keep receiving mail with Rachel's name on it.  I decided that for now,  I would like to leave things the way they are.

Basically, the more time I spent in the bank the more emotional, I was feeling. I think at one point, I actually started shaking a little bit.  Afterwards, I ran a few small errand, Pharmacy, Beged HaOlam and my last stop was Home Place. The paramedic that responded when Rachel died works there. Either he didn't recognize me or he decided to pretend not to.

In the end it was a really emotional day.  The flip side is I was able to face my fears and do what needed to get done.  I just hope I can find the same courage for other tasks that I have not been able to motivate myself to get done.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Coalition Pollytics

I was reminded tonight of a story that happened in December.  Rachel was really good at coming up with ways to use Channah's toys as a teaching tool.  One Yom Kippor night Rachel came up with the idea, that I would have Channah use her Playombil to reenact the Yom Kippor Avodah in the Beit HaMikdash.  This was when she had a limited collection and it took a lot of imagination to come up with everything we needed. She really enjoyed it and for a while wanted to do the same thing for every Parsha. 

Explaining this whole Government concept has been a challenge for her.  She can understand that their is a Mayor or Prime Minister in charge.  She has a harder time understanding that there are other pieces in place.  She had seen election signs around the neighbourhood and heard us talking about it. On election day we were in Bnei Brak and we saw the Shas and Gimmel trucks driving around, with loud music.

Rachel decided to sit down and explain to Channah how elections work using Polly Pockets. As a result Channah calls it 'Polly' tics. 

The conversation ended up going in a slightly different direction then she had planned.  In the end she ended up explaining how a coalition is formed.

It went something like this.  This represents the biggest party.  We will call him Bibi. His party is the biggest, so he gets to be Rosh Memshalah (Prime Minister).  However is party isn't big enough to form the Government.  Let's say his party likes dogs. 

So he goes over to another party that likes cats. They agree that they can be in the Government together. However, their party is still not quite big enough.

This is Tzipi Livni, nobody likes her. Her party is small but she thinks she should be Rosh Memshalah anyways.

So they join with a 3rd party that doesn't like dogs or cats. However they are in favour of giving everyone named Channah 1000 NIS a month.  So the 3 parties get together and decided that their Government is going to help Kangaroos. They won't help Cats or Dogs and they will not give everyone named Channah any extra money.  Now Bibi can be the Prime Minister and he has his Government.