Hunting for Hope

What an elevated eight days it’s been, from Passover to Easter/Resurrection Sunday. Elevated in that I could clearly see that my life was full of blessings, so much goodness just playing out at eye level.

Last Saturday we had a Seder in the backyard. While I may not worship as a Jew anymore, I certainly embrace the culture and traditions of my late — albeit assimilated — Jewish father, and of a life once lived as an observant Jew, and most importantly of my beautiful children whose identity includes their Jewishness. As well, this time of year opportune for acknowledging the intersections of religious practice, such as Maundy Thursday in the Christian tradition being the day Jesus shares Passover dinner with His disciples. There is so much to celebrate.

Monday my deeply passionate, funny-as-hell, incredibly intelligent, and very good looking (I’m not the only one who thinks so) son returned East. He had been out here for most of March, as we bookended a pandemic year by living together during that month on each end. Along with my beautiful, multi-talented, spiritual and generous daughter we had a blast with each other, with friends, and with my new home of Los Angeles, California. Hikes and thrift shops, beer gardens and picnics highlighted a month that took us just a little bit closer into the world we were forced to abandon a year ago. And let me tell you, it was exhausting! To be so active after a year of relative isolation… But we powered through, all in vacation mode, willingly leaving work by the wayside. What a gift to be a part of this team.

Tuesday I got a new car. New-to-me. My son had accompanied me on the first round of the process the week before. Without inciting suspicion in the reader that I receive any kind of fee for this, CarMax rocks. I traded in my fourteen-year-old Toyota Rav 4, purchased when I was still was driving kids around in the back seat, for a two-door white Honda Accord with very sexy hubcaps. I am still in the process of learning how to use the many bells and whistles included on the dashboard of this thing (is there a class I can take?!) but I did figure out how to tune to my favorite radio stations. The Wave and NPR’s local station, KPCC, are my go-tos. There’s also a great old-school hip-hop station I play when feeling that OG vibe. And I tune in to a reggaetón station once in a while, too, when attempting to catch up with the 21st century.

Wednesday I recovered from Monday and Tuesday — and taught class. Then Thursday came wherein I returned to the parking structure at Pasadena Community College for my second Moderna vaccine. Still worried it would not happen, that I would not have the correct paperwork, that they would run out, or that the sky would fall (because, really, how has it not yet?) I arrived early and cried once again as I got the injection. And not because it hurt. Although maybe, yes, because it hurt — it hurt my heart. I hurt for the year that’s been, and for all those who have suffered so much, and for all things wrong still not righted in this country, and in this world. Like the Passover tradition of removing a drop of wine from your glass to acknowledge the pain that the Egyptians endured during the plagues — and like the drink offering that has gone from Biblical times to urban street corners — I felt sorrow during my joy. I feel sorrow that people are actually being asked if the police officer who murdered George Floyd actually did; sorrow that mass shootings have returned, and yet lawmakers still hold tight to the “right” to own rapid fire weapons; sorrow for the immigrants fleeing violence and pain, only to find that we inflict that pretty well ourselves… Joy. Pain. Sunshine. Rain.

Friday found me continuing work on a book proposal, propped up by a longtime writing buddy via Zoom. She and I wrote dissertations together in various North Jersey libraries a few years back, always breaking after our four-hour stints for wine and gluten-free pizza. We are writing with another woman now who is at the tail-end of her own dissertation work. We encourage her as best we can, but before we know it the post-traumatic stress of graduate school gets a hold and we begin babbling, reciting facts and naming theories so that I’m not sure how much we’re really helping. P.S., My pastor just defended his dissertation last week, so now he’s a Reverend Doctor. School — some of us just can’t get enough.

Saturday I worked my shift at Pasadena’s Friends In Deed food pantry with my daughter. (Meanwhile my son was working at a Lenape community farm in New Jersey — did I mention my children have big hearts, too?). The food pantry has been such a blessing; it is why I qualified for a vaccination when I did, and how I have already met some really cool people in my new home during a pandemic. I am lucky to be associated with this amazing organization and you all are free to donate at any time. I see the work they do, I watch its direct impact on humanity.

Mom’s birthday was Saturday, too, and I found myself missing her in fresh ways. A friend told me recently that the three-year mark after a person’s death is unique in its time away from the loss, and time into the realization that that person will not return. It’ll be three years this fall that Mom passed. It seems to me this period also entails forgetting the trying logistics of death and dying, difficult feelings and the like, while recovering happy mental snapshots. Kind of how we forget labor pains and begin to remember only the joy of giving birth, any negativity that arose around mom’s last years is slowly slipping away from me, replaced with images like the Easter baskets she used put together for us when we were very young, replete with malted milk chocolate eggs and cute underwear. Why underwear, I ask now. That was mom.

And then here it is Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, a day celebrating Spring, renewal and hope. Seems like a good time for all that, doesn’t it? I solemnly and heartily pray for these things for humankind; for our earth that continues to take a beating; for all the animals that bring us unconditional love. Blessed Sunday to everyone, powerful Spring, joyous Resurrection. Here’s hoping that you find happiness staring straight at you. And if that’s not the case, then here’s to seeking it like a child hunting for precious Easter eggs, thrilled at the discovery each and every time.

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