Not a great night.  Not a terrible night, but not one that I’m going to want to relive any time soon.

It’s Friday night, and we always do Shabbat dinner.  Almost always.  But every now and again, something will come up and plans will change.  This Friday, our rabbi is hosting Challah-ween, and it’s a huge party, with between 20-40 people.  In other words, it’s the last place in the world that Sam wants to be.  Julie wants to go, Marc thrives in settings like this, and even Jessie was happy to go.  As long as I was going.  Or Lilli or Sarah.  Just someone other than her dad, who will get caught up in conversation and not necessarily notice my little introvert who’s feeling awkward and out of place.  Someone other than her little sister, who is just as introverted, if not more so – and will need at least an hour to come out of her shell.  Who will, in fact, spend much of that hour it takes clinging to Jessie and asking to go home.

Lilli and Sarah were supposed to be going – and I felt so guilty about not doing Shabbat at home tonight that I offered to take Sam’s friend home from school and keep him overnight.  Jessie would be fine, and I could write, or crochet or binge watch West Wing.

I came home from work, and checked the mail. I got a letter from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, notifying me that they have received notification that Sam is officially legally blind, and must surrender his license to drive immediately.  Which, okay, I knew was coming, and he’s ten, so not so much driving right now.  And there’s no guarantee that he WON’T ever be able to drive, especially since he hasn’t been able to sit thru and participate in a vision exam, so it’s entirely possible that he can get a pair of glasses.  And he’s only ten, so his optic nerve is still “squishy” (that’s the technical term) and may improve on it’s own.

Then we realized that the girls aren’t going – and my poor Jessie… I just felt like crap.  It’s not a big deal, she went, and she’ll be fine – but still… I felt like crap.  I feel like crap.  I hate being torn between the kids – like either choice I make is going to screw over one of them, and it’s just a matter of choosing which one can deal with it better at that point.  And in this case, there was nothing I could do.  Devin was already here, and the best I could do is offer to let her stay home.  Which she didn’t want to do.

All in all, a crappy night.

But the girls are off with Marc, and Sam and his buddy are tucked up with Netflix, take out chicken, and French fries.  I’ve got West Wing, and a salad, and three books on tap to read. So all is not lost.

This is where I’m supposed to be now.

We’re back to a state of equilibrium.   I used to think that we were too lucky – that things were so easy.  Not that they were easy, because they weren’t.  The kids fought and argued, I worried about them.  We never really had enough money, the laundry was never done, and I was always sick of doing dishes.

But Marc and I loved each other, and the kids were all doing well.   We never really had a lot of money, but we could afford what we needed.  Then the accident happened.

Actually, it started the fall before, when Sam started developing the abdominal issues.  The whole fall was constant doctor’s visits and blood work and stool samples.  And then we spiraled into massive anxiety and school refusal.  It was a whirlwind of psychiatric visits and endless calls to and from the school adjustment counsellor.

We had just pulled the plug on that – had literally filed the paperwork that day to start homeschooling.  Then the accident happened.  And it was June before our world started to settle.  July before things started to resemble our life before the accident.

It was a time dividing year.  Life is either before the accident or after.  We emerged from it scarred in more ways than one.  Literal, physical scars – Sam will forever wear a reminder of that day on his chin.  And his vision will never be the same.  We got a dog.  My husband is a lot older than he was at this time last year, he’s worn down and anxious.  I almost think that he was impacted more than anyone else in a lot of ways.  So much of the burden lays on him.  We divide what we’re responsible for, I handle the referrals, the doctors visits.  The grades and the teacher conferences.  The playdates and the pick ups,  the moods and the medicine.

Marc manages things differently.  I’m emotional, I’m going to yell at the kids when I need a break, and cry when it’s too hard.  Because sometimes it still is.  Sometimes the enormity of all that he lost, all that we lost, on that day he slammed into the car, it’s too much.  The worry is overwhelming, the demands of homeschooling, the question of what to study and how, when he can’t see the words on the paper.   But I process it, somehow, and move on.  Marc compartmentalizes it all – and ignores it entirely until it’s too much and then feels all the feels at once.  Not unlike the way that Sam manages to handle it.  He just makes it okay – until it isn’t.  Until it hits him that he’s lost so much of his life, his daily life, his legos, his coloring, his bike.  Pizza.  Then he falls apart and feels all the feels.  Until it’s done, and he packages it all back up and goes on.

The girls are impacted too – I think they’ve grown and matured a little.  I also think they’ve gotten a little sadder, a little less innocent about the dangers of life.  I try to make sure that they still have my attention and my focus.  My patience, even though that seems to be forever lacking.

This is where I’m supposed to be.  It’s not easy, but it’s so much easier than it was.

I like the Jewish holidays.  I especially like the fall Jewish holidays, because they’re the ones that I can celebrate just as a regular Jewish person.  There’s no conflict with Christmas, like there is in December and Hanukkah.  There’s no stress over whether or not I can give the kids cereal or pasta, like there is at Passover. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot and Simchat Torah – those are much more accessible for me.

Rosh Hashana is the New Year – and I was good with the New Year celebration.  In theory, anyway.  I like a new year.  The conflict this year was that Sammy didn’t want to go.  I mean, Sam doesn’t often want to do much of anything that has to do with the synagogue this year, and family parties are challenging.  Not impossible, but hard.  But I have three kids, not two – and celebrating the holidays with one third less children was really hard this year.  I just missed him.  He was home, perfectly content, playing video games and hanging with the dog – and bringing him would have been really hard for him.  But I was miserable and sad without him – so the day wasn’t all that much fun for me.

The thing with Yom Kippur – it’s a little more weighted.  Yom Kippur is the day when you reflect and pray and the myth is that God seals your name in the Book of Life, decides who will live and who will die.  Who will suffer and who will have an easy breezy sort of year.  You see my problem?  I refuse to believe in that sort of diety – the one who decided on a September day last year to make last year a living hell for my boy.  And the thought of apologizing for my sins, the idea of reflecting on what I did and how I could have done better – it just seemed… wrong, on so many levels.  In terms of my own mental health – the last thing I want to do is look back and wonder what I could have done better or differently.  There’s so much guilt there all the time, just under the surface, and I deal with it.  I’m not going to deliberately go down that road.   I told Marc that I was unilaterally sorry for anything I had done to hurt him, and that I unilaterally forgave him for anything – but also that we had survived the year.  We got thru it, with our marriage, our kids, our finances, our mental health basically intact – and any harm incurred during the process…. well, we did our best.  And sometimes, when the chips are down, and you’re in and out of the hospital and your son is wishing he was dead… you do your best, and if you’re still standing on the end, you count it as a win and move on.

It wasn’t a great year for the fall Jewish holidays for me.


It’s been an odd month.  Rosh Hashana was last week, and that took up Monday and Tuesday.  The kids went back to school for Wednesday and Thursday and then had Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today, Monday, off.  Back to school tomorrow, and then off on Wednesday for Yom Kippur and then back for Thursday and Friday.  Marc is working a zillion hours a week, rarely home before nine or ten most nights, and I’m home with the kids.

Jessie is in eighth grade this year.  Eighth grade is almost high school, which is a heart beat away from college and college – well, that’s pretty much an adult.  She’s morphing ever faster into this teenager, but still can spend hours playing on the floor with Julianna and some dollhouses.  Which happened today – and it’s blissful when it happens.  Miserable when it deteriorates into sniping and squabbling, but when it’s good – it’s lovely.  She spends a lot of time in her room, doing homework and working on Model UN research, but she snuggles up to me at night and comes with me to walk the dog.  She still likes me.

Sam is …. my Sammy.  He’s improving – he’s open to going out and doing things, and is willing to go shopping or apple picking and is counting the days until he can start playing D&D with Marc.  It’s still hard – he can’t see well enough to DO all the stuff he wants to do.  He wants to ride his bike and it terrifies me.  He wants to start a car fund to start saving money for his car – and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to see well enough to get his license.  He falls apart at the thought of getting eye glasses, and just mentioning an upcoming doctor’s appointment freaks him out.  But he’s happy – he’s cuddly and cute and friendly most of the time.  Homeschooling – this is going to be an exploratory semester for us.  We’re still waiting for the equipment and information from the Mass Commission for the Blind, so we’re going slowly – working on trying to catch up with math and studying the upcoming election.

Julianna is thriving.  Just thriving.  She’s doing very well in first grade, she’s got a real strength in writing and reading.  She’s getting better at navigating the playground and the social politics.  I want to homeschool her too – but when she’s doing so well, it’s hard to justify taking that on as well at this point.  Sending a kid to school is easier, you don’t have to plan the curriculum or worry about the future – it’s all packaged and ready.  Just add kid and go.  So to speak.  My hope is that she’ll continue to thrive, and then get into the GSA program that Jessie did, because that was transformational for her.  If not, if it starts to get to the point where I see her struggling, I can always pull her at that point.  I don’t honestly see Sam going to back any time soon.