Sunday, April 17, 2011

Letter to The Mums

Dear The Mums,

You know how Daddy always says that in Teddy Roosevelt’s time Sundays were reserved for letter writing?   Well, it’s Sunday (the one right before Pesach) and even though I don’t know the exact address of the Yeshivah shel Mal'ah where you’re probably hanging out these days, I’m sure that one way or another, you’ll receive this message.  (Rabbi Bogosian—and probably a few other people, too—is sure that you’re there all the time nudging God about why God didn’t let Moses into the Promised Land.  I can’t say I disagree with her!)

I know that you probably already know all the things I want to tell you that have gone on in the last 10 and a half months, but just in case you don’t, here goes…

It’s really hard here without you, but you’re always on our minds and we’re doing the best we can.  On the morning of Yom Kippur I carried “your” Torah scroll during the hakafah—the way you always did.  You know it’s always been my very favorite honor…and even more so now.  I had a chance to do it again a week ago on Shabbat B’Shir (obviously in the regular blue cover) when Danny Maseng was the scholar-in-residence. He was, as usual, wonderful, and I know you would have enjoyed seeing him and Terry.

Daddy and I will be back at temple on May 6th for the 50th anniversary celebration.  Eric’s speaking and everyone’s really excited…you’d think the pope was coming to visit. ;-)  Something else about Eric, too…he’s retiring in June of 2012 and Rick Jacobs from Westchester Reform will be succeeding him.  Apparently, there’s some possibility of job insecurity for me once he comes on board, but I honestly don’t think I’ll end up panhandling on Third Avenue.  We’ll see…

I’m sure you know about Uncle Jash, which was very hard for Aunt Claire.  In her indomitable way, though, she’s doing very well.  She’s making the seder tomorrow night and it will be a very familiar, albeit bittersweet, scene.  Daddy’s bringing the extra soup bowls she always borrows from you, as well as Miriam’s cup, and the haggadot.  We didn’t know where they were at first, but last weekend after the scholar-in-residence program, I went back to the house with Daddy and after starting in Fibber McGee’s closet, we finally found them in a big plastic box in the garage with all the other Passover stuff.  LZ’s making the desserts, and last night I made your delish crock pot brisket.  (Marc's making the choroset, which you know was always my specialty, but, alas, I had to let it go.)  I know that we’ll miss you more than ever tomorrow night, but also that you’ll be there with us, doing all the duh-duh-duh-duh-duhs at the end of every verse of Dayenu.  Oh, and please don’t forget about the weather…sunny and spring like would be wonderful.  Sanks!

One more thing:  Remember when you wrote in your ethical will that you wished for us the courage to face the things that we must face?  Well, I’m guessing you had no idea (or perhaps you did?) what a whopper I’d be facing these days.  After you died, LZ and I got tested for the BRCA gene mutations and although she’s negative, I’m positive (as we surmise you were) for a founder mutation that significantly increases my lifetime risk of both breast and ovarian cancer – up to 85% for the former and as high as 27% for the latter.  Mustering the courage to face the things that I must face, I connected with a great geneticist and team of doctors at Sloan-Kettering and had a full hysterectomy in December.  At the moment, I’m also in a high surveillance breast program that alternates mammograms and MRIs at six-month intervals.  A baseline MRI 10 days ago, though, uncovered two things that needed further investigation and so last week I had another MRI, an ultrasound and an MRI-guided core biopsy (Aunt Bea came with me for that one) before the docs, thankfully, could report that the two things were really nothing.  The experience, however, confirmed for me that I can’t live the rest of my life this way and so last week (with Aunt Claire in tow this time), I also saw a breast surgeon and am scheduled to see a plastic surgeon at the end of this month.  I’ve been doing a ton of research on various surgeons and procedures, and I’m totally comfortable that the prophylactic mastectomy and autologous reconstruction decision is absolutely the right one for me.  Courage to face the things I need to face?  As Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha!”

There’s lots more to tell, but these are the biggies.  The rest will have to wait for another Sunday and another letter. 

Chag sameach, The Mums….xoxo,
~ Boo!