4/27 – Prayer

Today is my niece Ilyse’s Bat Mitzvah. This is the day that in The Jewish religion a child becomes an adult. Ilyse has always been an adult in my opinion. I cherish her thoughtfulness, her kindness, her intelligence and spirit. There are moments in my life in which I have connected with my niece because of these great qualities that I will never forget. She is a tremendous young woman. My favorite thing about her is that she is genuine. Every time I see her she looks me right in the eye, with a hug included and says “How are you feeling?” And she says it in a way that is so genuine and thoughtful and real.

Last night we went to Friday night service at her temple. It was a very emotional night for me in many ways. Partly fueled by Dexamethasome from chemo that morning and partly fueled by my love and admiration for Ilyse I had a few moments that stuck out for me.

First – Ilyse said one prayer last night – at the very end of the service she blessed the wine and the bread and I started bawling. Imagine that – I started CRYING over the “hamotzi” and the “boray pre hagafen.” Both prayers I have said and heard MILLIONS of times before, three quarters of which I never paid attention to, but when my niece said them I cried. Thanks DEX. I can only imagine my emotional state when she actually leads the entire service tomorrow.

Second – And I credit my mother in law for opening my mind to this: There was a rabbinic intern who spoke. It was her last night as an intern at the temple. She had just graduated from rabbinical school and is to be officially ordained as a Rabbi next week. She spoke about THE TIME IN BETWEEN – that is, the time IN BETWEEN graduating and actually being a Rabbi. For Ilyse – the time IN BETWEEN being a child leading a prayer on Friday night Shabbat and being an adult reading from the TORAH the next day. We live our lives from moment to moment, always striving for the next marker. It is just as important to embrace the meaning of the IN BETWEEN times. These are times to reflect on what has been and to embrace all that is ahead.

For me, as a patient with an INCURABLE CANCER, I constantly live in the TIME IN BETWEEN. The rest of my life will be the TIME IN BETWEEN. IN BETWEEN treatment and transplant right now. IN BETWEEN remission (we hope) and relapse (which right now is inevitable but manageable) later. My life, from 12/1/12 on will be a life of always being in that moment of being IN BETWEEN. And, you know what, that’s OK. I am fine with that. I will enjoy the TIME IN BETWEEN. I will enjoy every moment large and small, be grateful for every milestone that passes (and the steroid driven emotionality that comes with them) AND live each and every moment of my life to the fullest. Which brings me to the last thought from last night.

The Rabbi spoke of the long winter behind us and how spring may be breaking through. He told us that gratitude is a great way to get through dark times and lead us into better ones. He went around the temple and asked people to share the things they are grateful for. I didn’t speak up but here is my list:

Grateful for friends and family who support me, call me, send me text and emails and comment in this space. It means so much to have your support.
Grateful for coworkers, bosses, clients and others who have enabled me to continue to not only work – but have given me reason and opportunity to THRIVE in doing so.
Grateful for my children who have embraced my disease, read my blog, asked me questions and cheered my health with every passing number. My children are REMARKABLE.

MOSTLY – grateful for HELENE. My wife decided that her way to cope with this is treat me like normal. Like I don’t have Cancer. That’s hard to do – but every day she soldiers on BRAVER THAN ME facing my mortality as if it is her own. Last night, on the way to temple, we started fighting about directions – how to get there. It is a fight we have had thousands of times before only this one was ELEVATED. Steroids, my breaking point, her ability to push my buttons a bit. I got out of hand. Helene’s ability to forget about it and put it behind her pulled us through that muck. She treats me like I don’t have Cancer but she always remembers that I do.

During the service the temple said a prayer of Misheberach. A healing prayer. Attendees have a chance to stand and announce a person that needs healing, help or prayer. My wife raised her hand and spoke my name. She then grabbed my arm as we said the Misheberach and cried. And I did too. And so there, in a congregation of people, my wife and I lived in the moment. The IN BETWEEN moment of uncertainty. The IN BETWEEN moment of NOW. The IN BETWEEN moment of reality that we will live in for the rest of our lives. But we EMBRACED it. It was the first time since my diagnosis that I have seen her cry. It was the first time since my diagnosis that we cried together. I am GRATEFUL for that moment and every moment and milestone that will follow – whatever they may be.

Reverend Run (@RevRunWisdom on Twitter) one of the members of the rap group RunDMC tweeted a philosophy the other day. “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they see the past better than it was and see the present worse than it is.” I remember the past. I have memories, great memories, of the past. I look to the future. I look to the milestones yet to come. There are too many Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, graduations to come that I plan on sticking around for. But most of all – I live in the present. I live in the IN BETWEEN moments that make up my life from now on and I embrace them all surrounded by people I love and care about. WHAT A LIFE!


16 responses to “4/27 – Prayer

  1. Hi Brad. I am Cindy and Rick’s friend (Stephanie’s mom) and I wanted to tell you that I am following your blog. Your writing is eloquent and truly an inspiration to everyone who reads it.

  2. Wow, your words were so powerful and heartfelt. I’ve tried to imagine how life is for you and Helene and the kids. I love that she treats you like you don’t have cancer but remembers that you do. The lifelong lessons you are both teaching your children about compassion, understanding, patience and love will be with them forever. The strength and faith you and Helene have will be carried forward by them as they grow into their teens and beyond. That my friend, is the greatest gift you can give a child and some of us parents never quite figure it out or get it right. Revel in the fact that you HAVE! As always my thoughts and prayers are with all of you. I’ll be thinking of you during my run today…IN BETWEEN the start and finish of my training I will pull strength from your words of wisdom and remain bradstrong! Now let’s kick some cancer butt today 🙂

  3. Wow!!! your words are always so awesome and have a way of sticking with me.. Today they were very very special.. I am looking forward to celebrating Ilyse’s special day with you and your whole beautiful and wonderful family.. xoxo Tracy

  4. Brad, this post completely captures the spirit, message and love from last night’s service. Your words are heartfelt and beautiful. We look forward to sharing Ilyse’s special day with you and the family. LOVE you. So blessed to have you as my brother in law. xo Pamela

  5. As I read this post like all you others, you share so much of your emotion and deep feelings you have daily ,which is such a wonderful gift you give all of us. I think reading about you and Helene sharing your first cry together last night at services is beautiful, please remember crying is never a sign of weakness, but a sign of deep feeling and letting yourself free to let yourself live in that moment. Thank you for sharing and Mazel Tov to Ilyseand the whole family, what a beautiful day to share such a special event. Hillary

  6. You’ve done it to me again….sitting here crying reading your insightful, inspirational posts!! You just amaze me!! You have given ME strength in my own life by sharing these personal thoughts of yours!! Have a wonderful time today with Helene, the kids, and your family and enjoy every minute of this wonderful celebration!! Love you!! xoxoxox Carole

  7. Hi Brad. I am Linda Gilbert, Sheri’s Mom. I just wanted to let you know that I am absolutely amazed by your blog. Your willingness to share each event, good and bad but with always that silver lining is so inspirational. Your writing and your way of expressing your feelings are an everlasting gift for all to see especially your very fortunate children who have won the prize for having both you and Helene as their parents. We (my husband, Jerry and I) just want you to know that you are in our thoughts and although we’ve remained a silent support system in the past, we have been and are always with you and your family in fighting this battle.

  8. Brad….you have a heart like a lion. The same heart I remember so fondly when we worked together in Minnesota. We miss you, Helene and your beautiful children. Frank Tonnemaker

  9. Hi Brad, Tracy just sent this to me and Marv and I ask about you all the time, we want you to know we are routing for you big time. Your words were so touching about your niece and your future and talking about the in between time, which most of us do not think about. We love you and Helene abd the whole family like it is an extenion of ours. What marvelous words!

    Xo Rosalie Wigutow

  10. Thank you, I can now use your words to further discuss my, our life with Myeloma to all who ask me – how are you?
    My day was septempeber 29, 2011 when the doctor spoke those words – you have cancer, you have multiple myeloma and we are starting chemo next week…
    My head is still spinning. But after a stem cell transplant on March 20, 2012, I am getting on in my new life as never before.
    We spoke of the space ‘in between’ when I was in architecture school, and your words to describe our lives and the in between – simply nails it !!!
    God bless and thank you.

  11. Incredible. Inspirational.
    Truth is…no one knows what tomorrow might bring… for anyone.
    We should all take time to enjoy the “in between”…Thanks for that reminder.
    Wishing you lots of love & good thoughts!!!

  12. Hi Brad – how wonderfully you express yourself; your descriptions brought me to tears as well. Thanks for sharing your feelings and reflections; you help put a lot of things in perspective. Alec, Doug and I want you to know our thoughts and prayers are always with you and the family. Hope the rest of Ilyse’s Bat Mitzvah weekend went well, and please convey our Mazel Tov to Pam and Robert. My Mom-in-law (Ruth) and Chuck have been in MN this weekend and send their best.
    Love you,

  13. Hi Brad, What powerful words….thank you for sharing them. April and I send our prayers and best wishes to you, Helene and kids. Tom Pistole

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