An Open Response to the Guy Who’s Upset He Can’t Date Me.

This past week, I received a message via the Uncover Ostomy contact form, in response to the lastest blog post about my Valentine’s Day festivities.

Well, more about who I chose to spend my Valentine’s Day with…

(I’ve bolded the aspects that stuck out, to me, so feel free to skip the rest.)

Dear Jess,
I hope this correspondence finds you well. I wanted to take a minute and share a couple of thoughts about your recent blog post, dated Feb 15th.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bother to comment or quip about some stranger’s comings and goings, their life and their “business”…… Because it’s not any of my business, so ordinarily, i wouldn’t care enough to bother, like, what 4?
But reading that Feb 15th blog entry, I felt compelled otherwise….. and how did I stumble on the blog, one right mouse button click too many I suppose…….
Anyways, I just wanted to comment that I found your entry totally heart wrenching and disappointing. As a Jewish guy here in Toronto committed to courtship with Jewish women, I find it painful and frustrating to observe Jewish women who have totally excused themselves from embracing that same commitment, to endogamy. As a Jewish guy, I can’t court whomever. If I do, my offspring will cut off and my lineage severed. My Bubby can’t take solace in the fact that despite her grandchild’s interfaith relationship, the lineage will continue. Jewish Maternal lineage is not a loophole for Jewish women to say, ‘I’ll date whoever and it’s okay, i’ll still be Jewish and so will my kids’ etc. Apart from the sheer falsity of that thought (lol since when does a non-Jewish spouse teach their kids to sing ‘Ma’Nishtana’ on Passover?), the male half of your coreligionist (or co-traditionalist if you prefer) have no such loophole to abuse.
As a Jewish guy, it’s date whoever and sacrifice my lineage, period. And while some guys might be totally assimilated to the point where they don’t know about their Jewish identity, nor care, and thus ready to court whoever they suites their fancy…… for us Jewish guys who want to preserve our identity, we need to court inside the “community” (lol, funny notion), otherwise we face ostracism. No bris, no bat/bar mitzvah for my kids if I marry a ‘Miss French’s’. So we Jewish guys who are committed to endogamy for the sake of preserving our lineage, and note there is nothing racist in the principle of endogamy, sadly watch or female co-religionists (or, co-traditionalist) get involved with whichever guy tickles their fancy, leaving us men behind, either to remain perpetual bachelors or betray our lineage, by default forced forsake the perpetuation of a Jewish identity to the next generation. That’s why I found your post, heart wrenching.
Best of luck in all your career and philanthropic pursuits,
N

Ok, before I get into what I really want to say, let me give you a bit of context.

I was raised Jewish by a Jewish family.

I went to a private Jewish elementary/middle school, I had a bat-mitzvah, kept Kosher, went to synagogue on the important holidays, and I have been fully educated in all Jewish traditions, cultural norms, and history. I have been Jewish for the majority of my life. My dad’s side of the family is “reform,” where they celebrate the important holidays, attend synagogue on the most important days, and keep Kosher. My dad’s sister is actually an Orthodox Jew, and follows all Jewish traditions and rules to the letter. My mom’s side is much more “reform,” and mostly just use the Jewish holidays as a reason to get together for dinner. Besides my mother and her parents, everyone else on this side of my family has married outside of the Jewish faith, but that hasn’t stopped them from recognizing and observing some of the traditions.

My Jewish upbringing is why I was featured in this article, on ShalomLife’s “Top 20 Under 40″ list. It was a wonderful article that said some great things about this campaign. I want to, first and foremost, thank the publication for recognizing me and Uncover Ostomy.

It is this article, that I assume, is how the particular individual sent that email, came across this campaign. (I haven’t, however, determine exactly how he found out that my boyfriend isn’t Jewish.)

In case you were unsure, the point that this individual is trying to make is that, in the Jewish religion, children are determine to be Jewish based on their mother’s religion, so Jewish guys are forced to marry Jewish girls if they want to have Jewish kids. What has expressed here is his disappointment in my decision to date “whomever tickles my fancy,” (aka someone not Jewish) because I am then taking myself out of the group of potential wives for him, and his fellow Jewish brethren.

To that I say: I am offended.  

He’s pretty much implying that I have taken myself out of his potential dating pool, as if I was just waiting there to be chosen.

Ummmmm.

Excuse me.

I can pick whomever I damn choose. Sorry that you don’t have the opportunity to date me? Sorry I’ve picked someone who’s not Jewish, over you? Besides, not a single one of my past boyfriends have been Jewish.

Ok, so, at first, the “not dating Jewish guys” thing wasn’t something I did intentionally. In fact, there have been a number of Jewish guys I’ve wanted to date. Unfortunately, the Jewish boys whom I had grown-up with, and the other boys that I have since met, have never seen me as dating material. Hence, I’ve never really tried to date a Jewish guy.

I was deemed “unfit” for dating, it seems, back when I was battling my Crohn’s disease as a pre-teen. Not only was I isolated from growing up with the Jewish community because I was stuck in a hospital bed for 2 years, but I had become shy and awkward and didn’t fit in. It didn’t help that the side-effects of my medications made me look like a monster. Even after I had surgery, I didn’t know how to act in social situations and I was still overweight. I never meshed with that group, so I didn’t really bother.

It was around this time that I remember seriously thinking about the premise of Judaism, as a whole. It was during those long, lonely days that I sat, in pain, in the hospital thinking “why me?” and “what did I do to deserve this?” In school, I had learned to trust and believe in God, but during this ordeal, I couldn’t really understand why. These thoughts made me question what religion really was all about.

After surgery, however, I went back to my Jewish school and pushed those thoughts aside.

Eventually, I went on to a public highschool, where I was one of very few Jews, so I identified as such. It seemed to make sense to me, and I continued on through to university.

It wasn’t until my second year of university that my Jewish identity started to morph. I suppose it could have had to do with living outside of my Kosher household or even because I didn’t hang out with the Jewish community at my school.. which, after all, was comprised of all those kids that I had never meshed with in elementary school. Whatever it was, the previous thoughts of questioning religion that I had, had, back in my days of being sick, slowly started to creep in.

It was in second year that I had met a boy whom I liked, and we started dating. He wasn’t Jewish, but he was nice and treated me well. He was also the second boy I had been in a relationship with who wasn’t Jewish. It didn’t matter, though, because I knew I was still young and marriage would not be in the cards for a while.

Anyway, this boy and I dated for a few months into school and throughout the Christmas break. It was then that my boyfriend of the time invited me over to his family’s Christmas dinner. In response, I invited him to join me at my family’s equivalent Channukah celebration.

That is, until, my father said otherwise.

I’ll be clear and say that I adored my father, and always will…. but in this moment, everything I thought I believed, changed.

My father said I was not allowed to bring my non-Jewish boyfriend to Channukah dinner. 

He explained that he expected me to marry a Jewish boy so that I could have Jewish kids. He said that bringing this non-Jewish boy into the family for celebrations was not appropriate. He said that he knew this boy wasn’t long-term, but that I needed to start thinking about my future and how I was going to raise a family.

I remember looking at him, stunned, with my jaw brushing against the rough carpeted floor.

This was a man who had always, always, always taught my brother and I to be accepting of everyone. Sure, we went to a private Jewish school, but we also went to a public summer camp, public highschool, and we had non-Jewish family friends, whom we had shared both Christian and Jewish celebrations with. I had been raised to learn about all cultures and religions and to accept everyone for who they are.

And now, suddenly, inviting a non-Jewish person to a Jewish celebration was not allowed?

I reminded him of this. I reminded him of the values he taught me.

And then I didn’t speak to him for 3 days.

To me, religion was the least relevant factor in the person I would choose to spend my life with. Why would I ever want to turn down a guy simply because he wasn’t Jewish? What if I had found the most amazing person in the world, who treated me like gold, and who would do anything for me, but he wasn’t Jewish? I’d have to say “sorry, better luck next time”? Even if he totally respected the Jewish faith? Even he let me celebrate the holidays and share them with my kids? Would it be better for me to end up with someone who didn’t respect me, simply because they followed the same rules of faith?

It didn’t make sense.

If someone loved me and I loved them and we had a happy, healthy, respectful relationship, that was the only thing that mattered.

The views my father expressed made me seriously reconsider why I needed religion in my life at all.

Eventually, he apologized and explained that he knew I was right about the idea of acceptance. He did, however, make sure to mention that he still really, really wanted me to marry someone Jewish, to keep it in the family..  I said I would see where my life ended up. And that was that.

Sadly, less than a year later, my dad died from a rare blood disease at the young age of 46.

And with him, died my need for religion.

It was during his “Shiva” (the Jewish form of a Wake, and lasts a week), that I knew religion was no longer for me. Everywhere I looked, there was something religious. A symbol. A prayer. And my Ultra-Orthodox aunt telling me that his death was “God’s way.”

No it wasn’t.

He was dead, and no part of religion was going to bring him back.

Just like I had been sick and almost died, and the surgeons saved my life.

Just like how religion was not going to play a part in how much love would exist in the marriage I would eventually choose.

And this is where I stand. This is where my journey has taken me.

Journeys are unique. Everyone experiences a different life that contributes to an individual sets of beliefs. I’ve found this especially true while doing work for this campaign, as those who have had especially rough journeys either end up with a lack of faith, like me, or with one renewed.

And you know what? To each their own.

My personal journey has led me to a place where I identify as just being me, and where I identify with an overarching set of beliefs that I do not categorize with any religion. I believe in the tenants of being kind, being respectful, being generous, and being loving. I also believe that others have the right to believe in whatever they so choose.

I, as you all know, very much believe in acceptance for all.

So, as I wrap up this long winded post, I want to say that my own personal journey has led me away from religion, and I believe that it’s ok. I want to say that I also believe that while this may be where I ended up, others end up completely different, with newfound strong belief in a higher power. While those people believe in something different than what I believe in, to me, it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is that we are all happy in the beliefs that we have chosen.

My dad passed away over 4 years ago now, and it’ been that long since I’ve stopped identifying as Jewish. I still go to Jewish family events, I still enjoy the food, I still understand the traditions and cultures, and I even still catch myself saying things like “oy vey.” I was raised Jewish, and it will always be a part of me.

My current boyfriend isn’t Jewish. He also isn’t any other religion. He was raised in a family that believed in another faith, but, like me, identifies with being himself. He believes in the same tenants that I do, of being kind and respectful and loving and accepting, and acts that way towards me. It doesn’t matter if we celebrate Channukah or Christmas, or we do both because we get to spend time with our families. What matters is that we love each other and have a wonderful relationship based on important values.

To the guy who wrote me that email: I am not Jewish, nor do I plan on raising a Jewish family. I do, however, recognize my family history and tradition, and will ensure my future children recognize it. I will also ensure that my future kids understand the religions, cultures, and traditions of all other faiths in the world. I don’t believe in Judaism, nor do I believe in any other religion.

What I do believe in, is accepting others for who they are and that they are happy with what they choose to believe in.

Maybe you should too.

August is a Terrible Month

I’ve always hated August. It’s a terrible month.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. I mean, Buzzfeed agrees with me.

We agree that August brings crazy hot temperatures.

Gigantic insects.

The end of freedom for kids everywhere.

And, for all of us, it marks the end of the best season: summer.

But for me, it marks much more than that.

For me, August marks the end of another year of my life, as my birthday quickly approaches within the first 3 days of September. It reminds me that another year of my life is ending, and that I’m probably not any wiser than I had been the year before.

August has recently begun to mark the time in my life where I made a terrible life mistake. I chose to believe that someone was the person I was meant to spend the rest of my life with, who I very sadly realized, never deserved me in the first place. August marks the time where I had to move out of our shared apartment.

(It was way less dramatic, I swear.)

Having moved out of the place I shared with my, now ex-boyfriend, I had to move back in with my mother into my childhood home.

Except, only for a few months, as this August she sold the place and moved out.

This month now also marks the time in my life where my childhood home disappeared.

But what August really marks for me, and will forever mark for me, is the loss of two very important people in my life.

The first loss I experienced in August of 2008, was my grandmother. She passed away on August 13th, 5 years ago.

She was an extremely important person in my life because she was the person who helped me discover my passion for acting.

Being one of the most respected actresses in Canada, having sat on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Acting Union, ACTRA, and starting a home for aged performers in Toronto (PAL), she was the person who brought me in to the world of performance.

At a very young age, she enrolled me into multiple acting classes, where she followed my talent. As I grew up, she mentored me and taught me the ins and outs of the industry. But my favourite memories I had with her were those times she would take me on set while she was filming (my favourite of which, being for the movie Beautiful Girlwhere I got to hang out with Fran Drescher!)

But most of you may know her from her famed role in Billy Madison, as the Lunch Lady:

My grandmother helped me find my passion in life, and because of that, she will always be a part of who I am.

But the person who has played one of the most pivotal roles in shaping who I am today, was the man I lost 4 years ago, on this day: My father.

For those of you who have been following me since I started this blog, or even over the past few years, you’ve already read about my dad. I talk about him often.

For those of you who don’t know the story of my my father, his fight with a rare blood disease called myelofibrosis, his search for a bone marrow match, and how his legacy was the catalyst for bone marrow drives in Canada, you can read about his story here. You can also read the blog I kept during the month of his treatment all the way up to his passing, here.

This has been the reason I’ve hated August as much as I do.

August reminds me of the worry. August reminds me of the stress. August reminds me of the sadness. And August reminds me of watching my father disappear, literally, before my eyes.

This year, however, August has been different.

Of course I miss him, and I’m sad, and I always will be… But things are starting to change.

They’re starting to blur.

When I first realized that details were starting to disappear, or blend together, I got very upset. I couldn’t believe that I had let myself forget some of the conversations my dad and I had had prior to his being admitted to the hospital. I was so mad at myself for not remembering some of the jokes he made to me in the hospital. And I couldn’t believe that the details of the few days we spent waiting for it to happen… have all started to merge into a faint memory.

At first, I was devastated. I was mad at myself. And I was mad at time.

That’s what time does. It blurs.

But this August, I began to realize something else.

Time was only blurring that horrible moment in my life.

The blurring of those horrible memories has begun to change the way I remember my father. Those awful times that have been so clear in my head these past 4 years, have slowly been replaced with old memories that had been pushed aside.

The memories that now fill my mind are the happy times my dad and I used to share, like when we used to huddle over his computer so he could teach me how to use a nifty new program he had just bought… Or the times he’d try to teach me math that I wasn’t quite getting.. Or the inappropriate jokes he would tell me (and to not tell my mother that he had). But most importantly, the memories of his support, help, and love during my sickness are what are coming back the most.

On this day, every year, I usually write a morbid piece. A piece riddled with sad memories, sad words, and sad feelings.

But this August is different.

Today, on this 30th day of August, I received the news that my latest flare of Crohn’s disease is gone.

While I had been struggling with the disease for the past few months and wishing more than anything that my dad was here to help me through it, hearing the news that I’ve beat it once more, on the anniversary of his death, couldn’t be better.

Maybe August isn’t so bad after all.

Sometimes, You Just Need Your Dad

I tried extremely hard to stay off of the internet today.

I wanted to avoid the Facebook status updates, the tweets, the Instagram posts.. I really didn’t want to see it at all.

I’m usually pretty ok with it too. I’ve become quite the emotionless person (not for a lack of effort) and little things usually don’t get to me.

But this year, Father’s Day has been a little bit more difficult.

This year, I really miss my dad.

For those who are new to UO, you may be unaware that on August 30th, 2009, my dad passed away after battling a rare blood disease and having a bone marrow transplant.

It’s almost been 4 years since it happened.

It’s been long enough that it’s just a terrible memory, but not long enough that I can still hear his voice and see his smile in my mind. It’s been long enough that I don’t get very sad when I think about him anymore, but not long enough that I still think about how much I need him right now. It’s been long enough that life has continued on, but not long enough to forget his impact on mine.

As you all know, my Crohn’s disease is back. I have been dealing with random stomach aches, symptoms from medications, and a general unfortunate change in my overall life.

But it’s different this time around.

Not because it hasn’t been too rough (which, I couldn’t be more thankful for), but because I don’t have my dad to take care of me.

My dad and I in Cuba. (I was not feeling well at the time)

My dad and I in Cuba. (I was not feeling well at the time)

I’ll preface what I’m about to say by clarifying how amazing my mother was during my sickness. I do not want to make it seem like she wasn’t an incredibly strong woman for being able to handle my disease, and keeping up a job, and a household, and a younger child, because she was. However, as my mother worked out of the home, her and I had a very different connection while I was sick than I did with my dad. Since he worked from home, my dad was always there.

On the days I would try and go to school, but not quite make it past the first couple hours because of the pain, he’d pick me up, put me on the couch, get me a nice hot water bottle for my stomach, and wrap me up in a blanket in front of the TV. On the days when I couldn’t eat, he’d make up a silly game to make me take shots of those disgusting meal replacement shakes so I’d get some nutrition. On the nights when I couldn’t sleep because of side effects of medication, he’d stay up with me and give me riddles to try and solve until I’d fall asleep. He would  ask the doctors all sorts of ridiculous questions to make sure all my treatments were safe, he would take me to the hospital on the days I really needed to go, and he would crack jokes whenever he could to keep my mind off the pain and suffering I was dealing with.

This time around, I find myself going to doctor’s appointments, visiting the hospital, and sitting through treatments on my own. I no longer have my dad to question every decision a doctor could suggest. I no longer have my dad to accompany me to the hospital and tell me jokes to distract me. I no longer have my dad to give me a pep talk before I go into a procedure, reminding me that I am strong.

The worst part is, I no longer have my dad to rub my back when my stomach hurts.

As the years go on, and memories start to fade ever so slightly, there is one so vivid that I will never forget it.

I was visting my dad in the hospital, a few days into his chemotherapy, which they had given him before his bone marrow transplant. He was alone that afternoon and I had come to keep him company. The chemo had started getting to him and he wasn’t feeling well, he told me as he laid in the hospital bed on his side. I remember sitting next to him, on the bed, and rubbing his back, almost as if by instinct. A few minutes later, a nurse who I had not met, came in to check his IV machine. She said hello to me and my dad immediately chimed in, with a giant grin on his face, to introduce me:

“This is my daughter. She’s rubbing my back like I used to do when she was sick a long time ago.”

I will never, ever, ever, forget that smile.

While the day is almost over, and I’ll soon be able to get back onto the internet as per normal, the thoughts of my dad will linger. Now, every time I see a doctor, I always make sure to ask the ridiculous questions that my dad would have asked. Now, every time I walk into the hospital, I find something to giggle at to take my mind off the reason I’m there, as my dad would have done. And now, every time I am about to go in to a procedure, I remind myself that my dad always knew I could handle anything that came my way.

For all of you who have spent the day with your dad, or just an hour with him, or even just called him on the phone, I want to tell you how lucky you are. Sure, sometimes dad’s can be overbearing, or annoying, or they can even make you really really mad.. (mine surely did).. but no matter how much they may get to you, they are a part of your life. A part that you may not realize you’ll miss when they’re gone.

Trust me.

Happy Father’s Day.

 

Happy 3 Years?

A little while ago I got a text from my brother saying, “Happy 3 years.”

“Happy 3 years?” I replied.

“I don’t know what to say before the 3.”

Neither did I.

What are you supposed to say when you bring up the anniversary of a death?

It’s been 3 years since we lost our father on August 30th, 2009 to myelofibrosis, a rare blood disease. For those of you who have been following this blog since it’s inception, you know the story. For those who don’t, you can read what happened here and read my blog about the journey here.

By now, I’ve come to terms with the loss of my dad. It’s been a long journey, but at this point, it’s just my life. I still miss him every day, but I am used to him not being here.

It’s kind of weird to look back over the past couple of years and think of all that has happened since he’s been gone. To be honest, I never would have thought anything that I have experienced since his passing would have ever happened to me. I didn’t think I’d end up going to graduate school in New York, I didn’t see myself dating who I dated, I didn’t see myself in the job I am in now, and I didn’t see Uncover Ostomy being as amazing as it is today. Would this all have happened if he was still here?  Would he be here to congratulate me on my Master degree? Would he be here to grill my past boyfriends? Would he be there to discuss my future career plans? Would I have poured all of my efforts and energy into this campaign?

Maybe it all still would have happened. Maybe where I am right now is where I’m supposed to be.

Or maybe, just maybe, his passing pushed me to work harder and be better and strive for the best I could get in everything I set my mind to. Maybe.

Nevertheless, I still wish he was still here today.

I still remember the last one-one-one time we spent together before he was admitted to the hospital. We were sitting side by side on the couch in the basement, both in pajamas. It was a small couch so he was close. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember his tone of voice. I could tell, through his words, that he was scared of the future he was to face. But I could also tell that he was proud of the future he could see I was going to have.

I hope I’ve done him proud.

Time Capsule

I tweeted a little while ago that I had been invited to participate in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month’s Challenge. I was a little shocked that I had been found, let alone invited to participate, especially since as I actually made my profile for the challenge, they didn’t have an option for “ostomy” in their drop down selection of  topic for my blog. Nevertheless, I thought I should sign up and see what this thing is all about.

From what I’ve gathered, the challenge is to write a blog based on a specific topic they give you, everyday. Will I be able to write a blog post everyday? Considering that it’s crunch time for my last full semester to get my M.A at NYU, probably not. Will I try? Hell, yeah. Nothing like a challenge to pump the adrenaline.

So over the next month, I’ll be trying to keep up with their blog topics. I will be challenged to actually write about what theyve asked me to write about, as opposed to writing about my life- which is just sooo much easier.

I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Here is the blog topic I was given for today:

Every life has a story. But often the most well-preserved stories are those accompanied by physical objects and visuals. In this year’s kick-off to HAWMC, create a time capsule of your stories, your life. Will your time capsule be a physical box or a collection of writing or visuals compiled in a digital format? Where would you hide your time capsule? What is inside your capsule (memorable objects, photos, advice), and what stories do the contents tell? Who do you hope will one day find your stories and what do you image they will think? Will your stories ever be on display or will they have a different purpose?

I’ve never made a time capsule before (or I have and have forgotten about it…) so this was an interesting thought for me to think. What matters most to me? What are the most influential moments of my life?

At first, I assumed that this question was asking me about my life in terms of my disease and what I would put away to remember that time. I immediately thought that my box would actually be made out of an empty TPN IV bag, as it was the symbol of my entire time struggling with Crohn’s disease in and out of the hospital. I had been in and out for 2 years, with most of those years being hooked up to an IV pole of TPN because I wasn’t allowed to eat. At one point, I even had this pole at home and had to hook and unhook myself from it (with the help of my parents) every night. I then thought I would include things like a Push Pop, one of the lollipops that were kept in a plastic tube that you had to push up. They were delicious, especially as they were one of the few things I could “eat” while I was sick. I thought I would also include a mini ostomy bag, of course, signifying surgery. I also thought I would include a picture of 6A, the floor at Sick Kids hospital that I resided in. And lastly, I thought I would include one of the hospital bracelets I have somewhere saved in my room, which I supposed I have saved for this reason.

After thinking about my time capsule and beginning to write it out, I realized that this blog topic wasn’t asking about the story of my illness, but it was asking about the story of my life. As most of you know from this blog, my sickness, nor my ostomy, are in any way my life, but are simply small elements of it.

I realized there is so much more I would put in my time capsule. In fact, I would even change the physical element of my time capsule. I quickly changed my mind from the IV bag to a small metal safe- both for resistance to the elements, and so that I could lock it  (logical, right?). I thought I’d bury it in the backyard of my childhood home so that I could find it sometime when I’m old. It wouldn’t be on display- it would just be for me. I’ve got my blog as my display.

As for contents, I knew I would put all of those things I had mentioned above, signifying my struggle with Crohn’s. However small part of my life it was, it was extremely influential to the person I am today. And yet, there is so much more that makes me who I am; so many people, places, and experiences.

Thinking back to these memories, I began to envision what I would include. I started thinking about including a pair of dancing shoes, from all the years of dance I enjoyed. I thought I’d also include a yearbook from my grade 8 class, as it was the last piece of my elementary school education and it took up 12 years of my life. I thought I’d include a pictures from all of the school plays I participated in, in high school, as well as cd’s with recordings of the songs I had sung in vocal class and choir. Obviously I knew that I had to include pictures of my friends and I from high school as well, especially since they some of the most important people in my life, who I fact, still keep in close contact with.

University is the most recent but most memorable time of my life, so I knew there was much to include from then. I thought I’d include pictures from my experience in university residence, my apron from working at the campus restaurant, and an essay I had written for one of my last classes. I’d include pictures of my friends and having ridiculous amounts of fun for no apparent reason either at the bar, or at a friends pool. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from our study sessions. which were when we really bonded, but I may have some study notes I’d include in there as well as a reminder.

My sorority was also a big part of my life, so I knew I’d have to include my bid card (invitation to join), as well as the composite picture where I am president. I would also include pictures of some of the greatest memories of my time there, such as pictures of parties, sisterhood events, and philanthropic events like the bone marrow drive we ran in memory of my dad.

I would of course, include things I had from my dad, such as his cologne that I keep on my dresser at home to remind me of him. I would also put one of the favorite pictures I have of him and I, where he’s holding me at less than 1 years old. I would also include a couple of random toys that my brother and I used to play with as children such as lego and playmobile. And I would include the hotel room key from the time my Mom and I went to Vegas, back in 2010. I would include the birthday card that my boyfriend gave me and a picture from one of our happiest moments. I would also  include a couple of old pieces of jewelry  from my deceased grandmother, and recent pictures of me and my living grandparents.

I would include maps and ticket stubs from my backpacking trip to Europe. I also thought I would my student card from NYU and an I <3 NY tshirt to signify my time living in the city…

..Maybe even my beloved stuffed animal Mr. Wrinkles who I’ve had since I was 1…

As I went on and on thinking about all the things I would put in my time capsule, I realized that there are so many memories from so many people in so many places that I want to remember. I don’t think there is any way I could actually put enough away to remember it all.

One thing I have learned in my short, 22 years of life is that the moment is really all you have. While memories are great things to think about, that’s all you can do with them. What matters is enjoying the moments with the people you love before they become memories, because once you have the memories, the only place they can go is in a time capsule.

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What would you put in your time capsule?

Sometimes The Best Way To Deal With Loss is Just to Smile

Every year at the end of August my family gets together and heads down to the Canadian National Exhibition, or The Ex. For those who don’t know it, it’s exactly what you’d expect to be; a huge exhibition with vendors, rides, games, shows, and food… TONS of it. Some of my best memories are trying out foods from the famous food building on site.

My family and I have made the Ex an annual tradition since I can remember. We’ve been going, I’d say, for at least 10 years. We’ve been going for so long that there were some years where I had to be wheeled in a wheelchair because I was dealing with my Crohn’s disease. It was a mission for me, but I wasn’t going to let a stupid disease ruin our family tradition. My dad always made sure I would never miss it.

That’s why I didn’t miss it today. Today is the 2nd anniversary of my dad’s passing from complications due to a bone marrow transplant. For those who don’t know the story, I wont get into detail because of those who do, but you can go to this link to read the story.

Though it’s the 2nd year I’ve lived without him in my life, today’s adventure was still lacking without him. Actually, a lot of things in my life have been lacking without him.

It was weird being president of my sorority without him cracking bad jokes about the position.

It was strange graduating from UWO this May without him there to clap as I walked across the stage.

It’s odd knowing I’m moving to NYC and getting my Masters at NYU without him telling me he’s proud of me.

It still upsets me knowing that I can’t sit down and talk with him about everything that’s going on in my life.

It’s been two years but I’m still not used to it.

Instead of sitting around and being sad, mopey, and depressing, I thought there was no better way to remember him than to go to our favourite event. We had fun, we laughed, we ate ridiculous food, and we spent time together as a family.

That’s all he would have wanted.

Miss you daddy <3

May the New Year Bring Only Joy

I’m back from a wonderful vacation in Jamaica with my mother and brother, and currently heading to London to spend New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend. It is this time of year that you must spend with the ones you love because you never know when the opportunity will disappear.

Over the past few years I have become very aware of this, with my grandmother and my father’s passing, but as of last night, the point was reiterated yet again.

Myself and my sorority sisters found out late yesterday evening that one of our graduated members had passed away. She was only 22.

This girl had been around during my first year in the sorority and then became one of my roommates when I lived in the sorority house in my second year. We had many great memories together.

Last year, we grew apart because she left the sorority and I was busy dealing with the loss of my father, school, and everything else a normal person my age has to deal with. I posted on her facebook wall but I never got around to actually seeing her. I always figured I had time.

Though I never make New Year’s resolutions, I decided that this year would be an exception. I have always know that I have difficulty keeping in touch with the friends I have made over the years. I always just expect to see them again in a certain situation, which I usually do, and it’s like old times. I realize that I can no longer make this assumption and must make the effort to stay in touch.

My new year’s resolution is to actively reach out to those that I have made friendships with so that I will never miss the opportunity to show them what they’ve meant to me.

Happy New Years, and may 2011 only bring good things.

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Video from my Jamaican vacation will be coming soon, keep checking.

The Holiday Season

Oh the holiday season.

I guess for me, this season will always bring the good and the not-so-good emotions.

This time of year is a mix of emotions between enjoying time with the loved ones in your life but is also about remembering those who are no longer with you.

This weekend when I was home in Toronto I celebrated Channukah with both sides of my family. We went to my Bubbie’s house [My father’s mother] for our usual Friday night dinner. This time though, it was accompanied by latkas [the traditional jewish food during this holiday] and gifts. Saturday  too, included latkas and gifts with my mother’s side of the family.

I hadn’t really been around my family for a few months since I had moved back to school, so it was a nice change. I missed everyone and enjoyed spending quality time with them.

Even though it has been a while since his passing, it has still been hard celebrating the holidays without my dad. I don’t really know how to put it into words, and I don’t know if I can, but it was hard.

To top it all off, yesterday, I received an email from a family with a picture attached. The mother of the family had emailed me explaining  how she had met my father. Apparently, the family had met my dad at Princess Margaret Hospital when my he was in for weekly blood transfusions and their daughter was in for treatments. The mother had told me how much fun my dad had been and what a great person he was. Attached to the email, was a picture of an ornament they had made of my father to put on their special “angel” tree. This tree has 12 ornaments of people they had met and who had passed over the past two years who they consider heroes.

I guess I didn’t really realize how much I missed my dad during the holidays until I received the email, last night, during my sorority holiday potluck dinner. I read the email as it came to my blackberry while sitting at a table with a bunch of my sisters. The email was so touching that I actually cried at the table. Luckily, I was able to hide it. However, in an instant my tears were quickly turned to laughs when a sister made a joke. The laughs reminded me of the love within my circle of friends and reminded me to cherish the time I had with them.

Last night was definitely a great moment during this holiday season. Of course I had an amazing time with my family back at home, but last night was special as well. At 6pm yesterday evening, our house began to fill with girls and food as we all prepared to feast for our holiday potluck. There were almost 50 girls present, each with a separate dish in hand. There was tons of food and laughter, and I had a great time.

Though this is really only the beginning of the holiday season, I have already experienced an overwhelming amount of joy and love. I am so lucky to have such special people in my life and I couldn’t be happier.

This holiday season, please appreciate the loved ones around you.

<3

Happy Birthday to Me?

I am currently sitting on my couch, trying to recuperate from a 10 hour day at the Canadian National Exhibition. I’m also watching the clock change to midnight, making me 21.

The Ex used to be a long standing birthday tradition for me in my family. Every year, no matter what, we would spend the day there on my birthday or the day before or after. When I say “no matter what,” I mean that. I had to spend some of those trips in in a wheelchair because I was still sick with Crohn’s. It didn’t matter, though; I had to go.

Over the past few years, however, that tradition’s been slacking. Birthday’s in general, really, have become increasingly less important to me. I stopped going to the Ex. This was a great change, and I had a great day thanks to my Uncle, brother, and cousins, but really, I’m not very excited to be 21 today… Maybe it’s because I’m getting old?

According to the “guess your age” guy at the Ex, I’m 34.

I do always say I’m a 35 year old at heart, so it was close…

Anyways, birthday’s really haven’t meant much to me, especially after last year… with the whole dad thing… So yeah. I don’t really know what to say.

Well…My mom thinks it’s a big deal.

So “Happy-I’m-21” to my mom. Love you and thanks for giving birth to me etc etc  <3

A Year Ago Today…

My dad passed away.

Still can’t believe it’s been a year. Well I still can’t believed it even happened.

I don’t really feel like writing a whole thing today. I just wanted to give him the honor of being mentioned. I know he would be proud of me for this blog, so this is the least I can do.

For those who are new to the blog and don’t know the story of what happened to my dad, you can read the blog I kept up for him during his journey here