Tuesday, April 19, 2011

there's grateful and then there's grateful

Last night, as we were starting the seder, my brother was heading home from an 8 plus hour dialysis marathon. He'd gone early so he'd have a chance to sleep before coming here for our annual dinner extravaganza. Throughout the day I was getting texts things weren't going so well—chills that weren't stopping, a fever, an infection, antibiotics. He didn't want company, he didn't want food, he didn't want to go to the hospital, despite what the doctors there said. And so, as we sat down at the table, he went to sleep.

I missed him. A lot. The first thing we do at our seders is go around the table and talk about what we're grateful for. It's both mushy and meaningful. There is so much I'm grateful for right now. My family, my 2 delicious puppies, but more than just about anything, I'm grateful that I'm a match and can hopefully help my brother get to a healthier place. I wanted to be able to say out loud, to him, how much this means to me. But, he wasn't there.

He also wasn't there to share eye rolls with, to make funny faces at, to share the huge bowl of watermelon Iz and I made for the two of them.

We spoke a couple of times during the night. At one point he said he was shutting his phone off so he could sleep.

Guests left a bit before 11 and we cleaned until 12, then I collapsed, sleeping far deeper than usual, until this morning. When I found 2 emails from my brother: one saying he had a horrendous headache, the second saying to please call as soon as he got up, he thought he might need to go to the hospital.

I called his cell, his house phone, I texted.


I tracked down the phone number of his building and asked his doorman to please send someone to knock on his door.

No answer.

He hadn't checked in to any area emergency rooms, we called them all.

By this point I was in full crisis mode. There's a focus, a flow as I process. My head stays clear. Even while my hands shake with nerves, I get things done. His doorman wasn't comfortable sending someone in to his apartment knowing 2 pit bulls were inside. I've known them since they were puppies—Jon and I headed straight over. In the cab I joked it was a good thing I wasn't an EMT. I couldn't imagine the stress of walking into situations like this on a regular basis, never knowing what to expect.

We got the keys and headed upstairs. The dogs started to bark. My hands were shaking so hard I couldn't unlock the door. Jon got it open and heart pounding, I started shouting.

My brother, sounding groggy, responded he was in his room. Sleeping.

And he was.

The fever had broken. He was drenched in so much sweat it was if someone had doused him with gallons of water.

He was ok.


He was ok.

I'm not. Yet.

But what I am is grateful, super grateful, beyond grateful at how uneventfully it all turned out. And even more grateful than that, for my brother being here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Impossible as it is to believe, I've gotten to the point where there's nothing to say. Nothing to wonder, to ponder, to explore, to worry about, to delve into.

We're waiting for a doctor to get back from vacation to interpret liver biopsy results. No one's quite sure when she'll be back in the office. And after 2 weeks away, I doubt that this will be at the top of her to do list.

It is what it is.

Worrying won't make anything happen faster. Panicking won't get her back at her desk faster.

And so, I'm not.

Instead I'm staring down a seder for 12 (or 14) that I'd given no thought to until yesterday. I'd thought I'd be recuperating from surgery, or preparing for an operation tomorrow. I thought this year I'd be exempt from hosting and cleaning and cooking and organizing.


Carrots are in the oven. Potatoes are on the stove. Matzoh kugel is next on the list.

The apartment is disastrous at the moment. I have to track down table cloths and fancy napkins. Candles and Passover accessories. Tables to set. Folding chairs to locate.

Matzoh balls have to be made. Soup cooked. Desserts organized.

And then, a week and a half of kids home for spring break with absolutely no plans made.

Normally, I'd be a frenzied wreck. Instead, I'm appreciating the warm breeze flowing through the window, Iz and the pup napping together on the couch, the smell of brown sugar filling the air.

It is what it is.

And I'm learning that that's just fine.