Thursday, November 5, 2015

Nano: Where I Am

So today is Day 5 and already my plans have been kicked black and blue.

But I'm still writing.

On Day 1 of Nano, my sister in law went into the hospital. The chemo has been riding roughshod on her and she had two days of a fever so they admitted her. The fever thankfully passed but her white blood cell count is dangerously low and she tested positive for e-coli. We're hoping she comes home tomorrow but if she does then we have to be totally prepared.

So tonight I have to clean her room, wash all her bedding and make her space as germ free as possible. And I'll probably have to keep that up until she's done with this entire chemo journey.

I was hoping to write at work during my lunch breaks but so far this week I only got one day to write. Obviously this would be the week where we have meeting scheduled (twice) during lunch breaks and of course, I want to go to the hospital and see my SIL.

So my confession: I started Nano with almost 8,000 words written. Yes, I cheated. And thank God I did because otherwise I'd already be so far behind and discouraged that I wouldn't complete. Instead last night I wrote 1000 words and I've averaged 1000 words daily so far so I'm still writing and still ahead.

And the story is just.... this is the happiest I've been in ages in writing.

“If you put three Jews in a room, Shayna, you’ll have four opinions.” Reb Zimmerman grinned. “It’s the greatest pleasure sometimes for us. We like to argue, we like to disagree. A Jew will demand proof and then even question the proof you have.”
“Basic Jewish teaching is that there is a life after death. You believe in the resurrection with the coming of the Messiah.”
“For those who believe that the Messiah will truly come.”
“Aha, a chink in the holy armor. Reb, do you not believe?”
He obviously didn’t mind her teasing. “I doubt. I think our people needed the Messiah many different times in our history and he never came.”
“It might be a she.”
“Shayna, it could be Lassie but she never showed up. Personally, I don’t believe there is going to be a Messiah to lead us all back to the Holy Land. I think that was wishful thinking from a long ago time. What we have here is what we have and the afterlife is best left to the dead.”
“Do you worry?” She leaned in, interested.
“Worry about what? Do I worry I might go to Hell because I might have flirted too much with the President of the Sisterhood when my Rose was alive? Or is the worry that this is all there is and it will end?”
She was like an eager Bat Mitzvah, finally getting the personal time to ask the most important question of her existence: will I end one day? Will the future happen without me? Do I matter?
“I believe in God, Shayna. I believe He hasn’t turned His back on us even though most of us have turned our backs on Him. I believe that each one of us is a seed in his garden and like any garden we sprout, we grow and we die. We can live on through our offshoots, perhaps through the seeds we spread through our lives. Some grow to be great trees and shade millions. Some are weeds who strangle other plants before they can bloom.
“I believe we are all given the chance to bloom and it’s our job to leave our spot in the garden to the next generation.”
She sat back, her disappointment not hidden. “Reb, I’m right here. I have the answers. I am the proof.”
“The proof of what Shayna? Proof of your existence and your experience. If you mean to tell me that we all go to either Heaven or Hell based on random judgements from moments in our lives then I’d be disappointed in you.”
“You disappoint me.” She stood and looked down at him. He could see the tension in her shoulders. It seemed so at odds with the woman he was beginning to know. Then again, how much did one ever truly know the devil? Perhaps this was one of her best deceptions yet.
“I don’t want to believe in it, Shayna.”
He looked away from her. Was he making a mistake? How much did he dare expose? How much could it hurt him?
“Eternity is for angels.” He sat back slowly in his chair, he could feel the slight burn between his shoulder blades, a muscle was protesting or maybe something was sprained. He should see a doctor for it but it was just another ache in a long list.
“Live a moment in a human body and you’d wish against eternity. The bladder is weak and the eyesight is weaker. Everything hurts. A good day is the one where you make it to the bathroom in time without dripping in your pants. God made us weak and we get weaker by the year. What does eternity promise except more pain and disappointment?”
“You could go to Heaven and have the perfect life.” She sat back down, her interest engaged again. “Maybe you could be 30 years old once again and back with your love.”
“I’d give almost anything to believe in that.” He closed his eyes so the wet wouldn’t gather and make a tear. “But I don’t. If there is any kind of afterlife Shayna, I imagine it’s almost as you described your birth: little specks of happy nothing in the eternity of the universe.”
“Do you want me to tell you?” She was searching his face for something.
“I wouldn’t believe you if you tried.” He looked at his watch. “I have a class in a half hour Shayna and I need to gather materials as well as my wits.”
“So I’m dismissed?”
“I need to be a part of my own life now.”
She nodded. “I’ll give you that Reb. Do you want me to come back?”
“Do you want to?”
She barked a short laugh. “Put one Jew in a room and every question will be answered with two more. Rabbi Nathan Zimmerman, I still haven’t answered your call. I would like a piece of cake tonight if you’re willing to share.”
He nodded. “You’re beginning to define my nights Shayna. I would miss you if you weren’t there.”
“That might not be a great decision, Reb. But then, I’d miss you too. So maybe we’re both on the same track. Right or wrong, I’m not sure yet.”
He smiled. “And now even the devil sounds like a Jew.”
She left on the echo of a laugh.


  1. This book is going to be amazing. I can't wait to read the whole thing. Fingers crossed for you and your SIL.

  2. Prayers for SIL and hugs for you! I'll keep fingers crossed to. And I want to read this too. I might just forget mine and wait... I like that idea!

    Be well my friend and if you wanna just gasbag and Carolyn is busy, you know where I am. usually...

    HUGS all round.

  3. I really enjoyed this bit of story! I'm glad you have found some time to write despite all the stress. Best wish for your SIL.