Pain And Death And Life’s Frustrations – Is It All A Test, A Blessing Or A Curse? — By Marc

Had a whole other post ready to go, but then life steps in…

Today’s post is dedicated to my Grandmother Mildred, who passed away late Sunday evening. May her memory be a blessing and provide all of us with comfort and joy. She was a kind and loving soul, and I already miss her immensely.

She was 103, but it just wasn’t enough.

Me And GGGG And The Girls

There is so much more I wanted to know about her… learn from her… experience with her… So much more…

It is possible that while you are reading this, I am flying back to Jersey for her funeral. This is when living so far away hurts the most. It’s not the trip I imagined… That was planned for later this Summer, with my daughter… and was most likely going to be the last time I saw her… But it would have given some closure and comfort… a chance to hold her frail but soft hand one more time. That trip would have been, at least a little, and in my mind, on my terms. But the world does not move or exist on my terms, a concept I am getting more and more acquainted with.

So I wrap Tefillin and pray every morning… I ask for guidance and clarity and I especially focus on a few things… the idea that Hashem will not allow us to walk away empty-handed… that we lean on him, and if we need to place our burdens on him, he will support us… and that we ask for healing, for ourselves, for specific people and for all of Israel.

The fact that I can ask for someone else’s healing give me amazing comfort and purpose. And yet… I can no longer ask for prayers of healing for my Grandmother… That made me quite sad. Today was the first day, and I was about to say her name, I stopped… and yes, I sobbed.

My prayers might sometimes sound like a pleading… begging, if I am so moved… but they are a conversation… a discussion… an opportunity for me to verbalize what I already know… and what Hashem already knows…

And so the first question may very well be, why do we pray, if Hashem already knows what we want and need?  The obvious answer is that we actually NEED to pray. It is good for us to stop and take the time to talk to Hashem… to work things out… to discuss things… to have that alone time, quiet time. And as I said above, it is a powerful notion to ask for things for others. That is quite significant and really important.

It also makes us realize that life and the world, and all that is around us is much bigger than we are.

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Not that we are insignificant, but that there are mechanisms far beyond our understanding. The other answers about prayer go far deeper, and I am not as wise or informed as many. Keep in mind that these are my thoughts and are being informed as I begin to really delve in and explore Judaism.

The second question is on how we continue, when the answers seem to be unclear… or held back… when things seem to be negative or even bad… when tests and burdens seem to be in full swing. On Friday, my back went out, in the most excruciating way. It is an almost constant and daily battle for me, though every once in a while it goes fully out, causing shooting pains into my legs, stabbing jolts and spasms and an inability to walk upright. While I know others suffer far more than I do, with ailments far worse than mine, the pain can be quite brutal and debilitating and definitely impacts the quality of life in a huge way.

In addition to this and the myriad of other life challenges I am in the midst of, my computer is crashing at least five times a day, and often without warning… meaning things get lost. For a writer, whose lifeblood are his words and a machine to capture them on, this is devastating as well. A new Mac is not in the cards right now, but a new Mac is desperately needed.

And now my Grandmother. Boom, boom, boom. That seems like an awful lot.

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Hashem is not vengeful or spiteful. He does not do things to “mess with us” or cause us pain. That is an impossible way to live or think, and not something to believe in. And I do not feel that at all… but it is hard not to ask “why me?” or “why now?” Why are things sometimes coming so fast and furious?

Were it not for my faith, I would be lost. Were it not for my understanding, I would be broken. And while I am sore and battered… physically and emotionally… I am still here… Still breathing… Still pondering and questioning and trying to figure it out.

There was never a question that I was packing my Tefillin or Siddur… never a question that I would be praying on my trip… There was never a question that there are things I do not understand nor get to understand at this point… and that is a growth and a level attained that I could not have contemplated even six months ago.

Would I like to know why?  Of course. Would I like the pain to stop and things to get easier? Most definitely yes. But I have no control over that.

I have control over my attitude, what I do, how I behave, how I move forward…
Life is all about figuring it out… being a good and kind person… being generous and being there for others… and knowing they will be there for you.

Is it easy? Not always.
Are we continually learning and growing? I really and truly hope so. That is the goal… my goal.

Is it a test, a blessing or a curse? Hopefully the first two… and while it may sometimes seem like the third, that is just part of it, I guess. So I am telling myself this… stay the course… keep moving forward… keep moving up the ladder… and continue to be the kind of person you want to be… and be even better.

Even at 103, life goes fast… it is never enough… So live and live fully. Follow every dream. Explore and ask questions… and love deeply. No regrets…
“We are only immortal for a limited time.”

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