A loving relationship can be an oasis in uncertain times, but nurturing it requires attention, honesty, openness, vulnerability, and gratitude.
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Confessions of a replacement child
Barbara A Jaffe Ed.D.
It is the fear of putting my thoughts down and the pain and anguish that they will cause me, for writing has a permanence that my thoughts do not.
This new normal is so much more than the coronavirus. I refuse to accept this new normal.
While I can easily focus on the bleakness of the news during the coronavirus, instead I focus on what I appreciate in my life.
I first wrote those words when I was over a decade younger and perhaps a little more self-assured to believe there was more time than there really was. Here are my reflections today.
This year, like most of us, I am grateful for my health, my family, my dear friends. However, unlike previous years, I decided write my Gratefuls that are slightly different.
Molly has changed our house back to technicolor from black and white, reminding us that the love of a furry child is quite indescribable and still quite necessary for us.
I was 52 when I became Emma’s mother and now, we are both senior citizens, which leads me to focus on why I am writing this piece.
It's not always happiness that adds sustaining joy to our lives. For me, it is meaning. What gives your life meaning?
I acknowledge that no matter the amount of years spent with those whom I loved and cherished, it was never long enough.
I am truly grateful for the changes with which life provides us, for they come with incredible lessons of growth and learning — and also amazing rewards.
Instead of frustration and indifference, I prefer compassion, the way I would have wanted others to treat me, especially during challenging times—my version of The Golden Rule.
My on-time legacy comes from eons of programming.
While I am grateful, daily, for what I have worked so hard for in my life, a year that is ending inspires me to contemplate all that I value.
The function of my loss is a rekindling of all that I hold dear, a reminder that I still need all of the people and the experiences within me on my journey ahead.
Reading my old journals has been like meeting a dear friend after years apart. My writings reflect how far I have come and how much more content I am in my own skin today.
I have a moral obligation to learn all that I can historical events such as the Holocaust and to sound the ‘alarm’ when foreboding signs appear in current society.
Loss has made me turn inward to magnify not only my own hesitations and challenges, but also my gratitude.
Age has given me the gift of reflection and reprioritizing what gives me immediate joy as well as the ability to appreciate my todays.
Seasons are so much more than changing weather: they are memories of poignant changes within my family and myself, the ebbs and flows of schedules and routines.
The house holds the secrets of young motherhood, of early carpools, of fears of getting it all right; and my older age, when I accept I just didn't just get it all right.
And, because I miss my mother so much (even after nine years), my mind plays tricks on me, and, for a couple of seconds, I actually forget she is gone and I go to call her.
Spending my days in significant and thoughtful ways takes on an importance I had never thought about when I was younger.
My wedding dress became a distant memory, only coming into my frame of reference when my eye would catch a glimpse of our wedding photo on the wall in my parents' house.
When our parents become ill, we can create a new image of them while still carrying the memories of their healthy selves within our hearts.
So many meaningful scents provide backdrops of endearment, which join my heart and soul to the places and loved ones I so treasure.
I can’t imagine my life without books, without reading, without the joy and beauty of words as they unfold on a page.
It wasn’t until I was older, I mean a lot older, did I accept that I have a gift—that I might even be better than just a ‘good’ writer, better than just a pleasant writer.
One of my saddest tasks was the dismantling of my parents’ house of 55 years. Where does one begin to sift through a lifetime of memorabilia and meaningful possessions?
The strange thing about hoops is that we don't really know they exist until we review our lives with our greatly earned hindsight—awarded by surviving our own countless hoops.
Despite all the things (and they are just things) that have been discontinued, goodness, family, friendship, empathy, and joy will never be replaced.
Barbara Jaffe, Ed.D., is a fellow in UCLA’s department of education and a professor at El Camino College.