Monday, September 06, 2004

When life gives me lemons, I throw them at someone's head!

This post is for b4b.jpgBlogging for books The subject this month is to write about a struggle to adapt to a major change in my life. This is my very first entry in this competition.

In June of 1985 I said good-bye to my mom, dad and 11 year old sister Kara as I headed toward the El Al terminal. I was 22 years old and I was heading to Israel for a three week stay on a kibbutz. There was always the option for me to stay longer but at that point I didn't know for sure. I had been going through a hard time personally and I just needed a break from reality for a while. The communal lifestyle of the kibbutz was the answer to most of the stress in my "real life" back in the U.S. Two weeks later, I called my mom and asked her to pack up my winter clothes and send them to me. I was staying.

Israel was wonderful. I loved everything about it: the food, the people, the history and especially the language. My heart soared with each and every melodious word. My big regret was that I didn't speak it fluently. After two years I decided to sign up for a six month intensive Hebrew course so that I could fulfill that dream. I had also decided that I wanted to work in a hotel in Tel Aviv. I had gone to college for hotel management and I was still interested in that career. How wonderful to combine my love of Israel with my dream job of managing a hotel. Everything seemed to be coming together.

At the end of August 1987 my mom called to tell me that the court case for the car accident I was in when I was 19 was finally going to trial. The lawyers wanted me! I had two days to pack,try to postpone my Hebrew course until I came back and say good-bye to my boyfriend. Within 48 hours I was reluctantly on my way back to the United States. My plan was to return as soon as the trial was over. Hopefully, within four weeks.

While the lawyers tried to get it all together for the trial I enjoyed my visit with my family. I hadn't realized how much I missed them until we were all back together again. Nana and Papa lived with us too so it was a great reunion. No matter how independent I thought I was and how much I loved my friends and boyfriend in Israel, nothing compared to the love I shared with my family.

After dinner, on Monday, September 28th, the whole family gathered in the living room. I sat on my dad's lap,threw my arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. I was suddenly overwhelmed with how much I had missed him. "I love you, Daddy," I said as I planted a few more kisses on each cheek. Nana laughed and asked jokingly, "What do you want from him?" I answered simply, "Nothing. I just love my father!"

The next day, September 29th, my father had a heart attack at work and died. He was 51 years old. My mom told me that I wouldn't be going back to Israel. I had to stay home and help her raise my 13 year old sister. I never questioned her. I just did what she needed me to do.
While the pain of daddy's death was still an open wound to my heart I had to plan a new life for myself. My life in Israel died along with my dad. My dream of speaking Hebrew and working in a hotel could never be pursued. My boyfriend and friends would have to be left behind. My life had to be exchanged for some uncertain future I didn't have any interest in discovering. I wanted my daddy back. I wanted my old life back. I wanted to go back to that time when my life was beautful and the possibilities for happiness were endless.

For the first month after daddy's death, I was a zombie. I cried all day, everyday. I couldn't believe that no matter how much I cried there were always more tears. I thought it was a miracle I didn't dehydrate from the crying. I couldn't figure out how to live. I wanted to run far away and forget that my life had been destroyed. How could my father die at the age of 51? It wasn't fair. I was sure it was a mistake. I begged and pleaded with God to bring my father back but if he had anything to say to me I wasn't listening. I was pissed at God anyway.

I am not the type of person who looks on the sunny side of life in a bad situation.It is more likely that I will assess the situation and immediately say, "There is no way this is going to work. I might as well give up!" The old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is too unrealistic for me. It is more than likely I will be pitching those lemons at someone's head!

Even as I looked for a job I don't think I realized I was never returning to Israel. My whole life was there. How could I be here? I cried for losing my dad and losing my dream. I didn't mean to be selfish. I knew my mom and sister were dealing with this loss too. I wanted to be helpful but I couldn't find a way to move past the pain.

Eventually I got a job and began accepting my new life. I didn't like it one bit but I knew it was what I had to do. My mom and sister needed me to be a functioning member of the family. I still cried every day, usually in the car, to and from work, but things began to fall into place once I stopped fighting the change. I like to think that my helping mom with Kara made being a single parent a little bit easier for her. I took pride in the things the three of us accomplished together. It was an extremely bumpy journey down the road to adulthood for me, but I arrived safely with only a few cuts and scrapes to my heart.

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