Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Wolfe Island Ferry is a Very Fine Place to Get Engaged

We have just completed a period of mourning which finishes with the intense day of mourning on Tish B'Av. Losing Gabi, being the support as Rachel fought depression from Gabi's loss and then facing a world where Channah needed to be able to count on me as a single parent. I don't need any reminders to know what emotional pain is like.

I have always been intrigued by a minhag I have heard about but never seen. Apparently on Tish B'Av afternoon some people sweep their homes in order to prepare for Mashiach.  This Shabbat is Parshat Nachamu (Shabbat of Comfort). The last 3 weeks the Haftorah has offered rebuke for the Jewish people. We switch to the 7 weeks of comfort leading up to Rosh HaShannah. Through the worst of the worst the Jewish people have always picked ourselves up ready to rebuild and start again.

When Peri went back home to Montreal a week and a half ago we thought that would be it until she came to visit us in Israel. On the Jewish Calendar we have 4 intense weeks of Chagim starting with Rosh HaShannah through Yom Kippor and Sukkot. Right at the end Hashem wants just one more day to be with the Jewish People. Shmeni Ezeret is just one more day in spiritual mode. There are no specific rules or rituals to go along with the day. Just one more day.

Peri and I just wanted one more day to be together. It didn't matter where we went or what we did. We just wanted to be together.  The most logical meeting point was Kingston around the halfway point between Toronto and Montreal.  My parents agreed to come to allow Peri and Channah to see each other and still allowing for us to have alone time for our 'second' date.

It is funny how people measure relationships in number of dates. Rachel and I were friends for about a year before I realized there was more. Peri has been a friend for about as long as I have known Rachel. She has been the person I spoke with multiple times a day since the shiva. We have spent a lot of time talking on Skype and Facetime. Friendships develop and grow if you decide to pay attention or not. While our First date was the Blue Jay game, the three of us went to Marineland the week before. That was the moment Channah transformed back into being just a kid. The weight of the last two years had finally been lifted. We started functioning like a family irrelevant of the titles or official dates.

Peri suggested going to the Thousand Islands because she had always wanted to go there.  I suggested we go to Wolfe Island because the Arrogant Worms have a song about the Wolfe Island Ferry. The fact she agreed to that logic demonstrates both how much she loves me and what a great match we are for each other.

Once we met up, we went to get on the Ferry. We missed the first one because there were too many cars in front of us. Instead we parked #5 in line for the next ferry and went for a walk. We stumbled upon a Buskerfest that was taking place that weekend. We eventually went back to the car and took the ferry across.

It was a gorgeous 20 minute 'cruise'. We both love being on the water. I love watching the sail boats. It has been many years since I have gone sailing. It was also cool to see how many wind mills the island has. We went to the corner store, general store and a couple of rooms where crafts and paintings were being sold. We then headed out to the Big Sandy Bay. It is a 1.2 km nature walk from the entrance until you get to the beach. Along the way there are some random plants and trees labelled with what they are called.

We had a nice walk along the beach before heading back. Once again we missed our turn on the fairy settling for a guaranteed spot on the next run. While we waited on a bench nearby we talked about the future and the fears in my life. I have come a long way on this trip in discovering the monsters under the bed not only didn't need to be feared but didn't exist at all.  I had conquered the fears and have been able to pick up my pieces and build momentum moving forward. It was then time to go back to the car to catch the ferry.

We ended up in a spot where there was nobody around. The water was calm in the late afternoon sun. The sailboats had all turned in for the day. Nothing but the water, trees and the person I love. I am famous for sucking in the romance department. Somehow I managed to find the perfect moment. As Peri turned around to face me, I asked her to Marry Me. It was the perfect end to a wonderful day.

Peri, Channah and I are a family. I am looking forward to getting married and having our family grow and flourish in Israel.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Life's Best Secret

Ever since Rachel passed away I have picked up a tiny piece of the need to be surrounded by music similar but not quite to the same extent Rachel did.  This particular song has been on my mind over the last little while.

Here is a link to the complete lyrics. I was going to cut and paste the applicable lyrics but I would end up posting the entire song.

Around Pesach time I happened to be at a meal with a single mother. The topic of dating came up with all the people trying to set her up even though it was clear that she was not in a position to move forward in her life. My hosts insisted that people were backing off because it was too soon for me. About a week later I was with a different family and they asked me about my future. I repeated the story about this other person. They were really offended anyone would try to set her up. In the next sentence they asked me if I had considered dating her.

Since then I have had some very interesting conversations with various people on where they saw my life going.  I decided not to go with one particular therapist because she was more interested in getting me married than dealing with the problems at hand.

My parents went home before Shloshim was over. I was surprised to learn they had been approached by various people about my future. Apparently I was considered a good catch and people were just waiting for me to get through the grieving process.   

I got married after my first year of university. I had never really lived on my own in an environment where I was completely responsible for myself. I needed the last 6 months to learn what it was like to live and depend on me. I needed to learn who I am because for the last 15+ years my life has always been about 'we'. I needed to grow, develop and become a better stronger person before I could ever look for the right person to be with me and raise Channah. I needed time to learn how to be a single parent. I needed time to grieve and figure out how to pick up the pieces. I needed to take huge scary steps in order to move forward. I am very proud of what I have accomplished.  I am also grateful to all of the outside help that has made it possible.

Throughout the entire time there has been one person who has been my anchor on the darkest days and my sunshine that let me know that the dark days would give way to less dark days. She has shown me that I am allowed to be happy, even though there will always be a part of my heart that will always miss Rachel. She has invigorated Channah with a special energy that has allowed her to act and feel like a kid again. It is something that I haven't seen in a very long time.

When your wife is going through major depression, you have conversations that go to dark places that are often not found in a marriage. Rachel told me who I would end up with, if anything happened to her. She spent the Friday before she died agonizing over the question of who's Channah's guardians should be. I firmly believe she had the piece of mind knowing that I had what I needed to look after Channah before she began the journey that she had longed for to go and look after Gabi.

Peri was Rachel's best friend from the time they were little kids. She has been my close friend for 20 years. She has always been someone with all of the attributes of a true friend. Last week we saw the Tigers show the Blue Jays why they are in first place and the Blue Jays are in last place. We also saw a bench clearing brawl and Colby Rasmus sending Omar Infante on a trip to the DL. It was our first date and yes we did have hot dogs. Channah understands what is going on and is absolutely thrilled.

I have learned the hard way that life doesn't go as planned.  Right now I am grateful and thrilled that Peri is in my life and we have decided to take this step so our relationship to grow even more.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Colliding Worlds

'We Didn't Start the Fire' is running through my head as I make this list. I am tone deaf so you can decide for yourself if this works. 

Blue Jays Lose, Blue Jays Win, Wedding, Wedding Reception, Wedding still to come, Stomach Flu, Hockey, Cottage, Stanley Cup on CBC, Shabbats with Family, Shabbat with Friends, Camp for Channah, Marineland, Anniversary, BBQ, 'Canadian Donuts', New Shoes, Broken down Erev Shabbat near Cornwall, Star Trek into Darkness, Man of Steel with D-Box, The Great and Powerful Oz, The Devil Wears Prada, Dave and Busters, Bowling, Mount Royal, Kiddush for friends who waited 14 years to adopt baby girl, Channah's insomnia is back again, JFK, Flight Delay, 'There's a Cow in My Soup', Trading tickets with Ticket Master, Tov Li again and again, Sushi Delight, Sheva Brochot, Pre-Sheva Brachot, Harbourfront, Schedule Juggling, Raising money, Brand new dryer waiting for my return home, Living with my parents, time with family and friends (including the Israeli ones), 2nd Still Standing Magazine Article, Slurpees, Free baby sitting, Chauffeur service, Science Centre and Oink Oink for Channah, lots of crafts, dollar store, Walmart, 2L bottles look huge, tons of new stuffed animal friends.

That is a brief summary of why I have been mostly tuning out the world over the last few weeks. The trip to Toronto has been a mass of worlds colliding. The past with the future as I continue to pick up the broken pieces and figure out which ones to take with me, which ones to keep in a safe place and which ones are not as significant as they seemed before I picked them up to examine them.

When I moved to Israel some of my life in Toronto became left in my passed. When Gabi died some walked back into my life and many more walked out. When Rachel died I had a flood of support from my new community and a lot from the old country. It was such a blur I can't say with any degree of certainty if an individual person didn't. The family in Toronto was flooded with even more support. While they were flooded with hundreds of condolence cards I received 4 or 5. It does not bother me in anyway how people choose to or not to show there grief. It is only to help understand what I am about to write.

On a number of times I have run into people that I know that I don't think I have heard from since Rachel's passing and possibly much, much longer. I am sure it is 1000 times more awkward for them as it is or me. We exchange greetings and sometimes even make small talk. I walk away with two questions on my head 1.Did they know about Rachel? 2. If they did, why didn't they say anything? (even in a round about way to let me decide if it is a topic I want to discuss). The end result is instead of taking another tiny step forward, I feel confused as the questions turn over in my head.

I am proud of how in the last few months, I have gotten myself back on my feet at home. I am now confident I can provide the an environment to allow Channah to continue to grow and prosper. I also believe Rachel would not have left me to take care of Gabi if she didn't have full faith in me. This trip has taught me to face the fears of my colliding fears and remind me the world is not as big and scary of a place that it appears to be. I love my family. I know that I can take care of it.