Bad Medicine at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center


On February 28 of this year I had ananterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery on my neck at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. The surgery was a success and I have been pain free since I woke up from surgery. I was not only blessed to have a great surgical outcome, but I wrote about my experience with the clergy at Saint Joe’s because they impacted my experience.

Chaplain Phil Kiehl and Rebecca Stringer from the chaplain’s office both came to pray with me. Phil said a prayer with me and my son before my surgery, and Rebecca came and prayed with me before I went home. They were kind, and loving, and I felt the power of their prayers. They both said prayers tailored to my faith, which I appreciated. The prayers mattered and have stayed with me. I felt lucky to have had such a wonderful experience, both physically and spiritually. Sadly my good feelings about Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center did not last very long. In fact, they went from good, to bad, to disbelief, and now I am angry. Angry and disgusted by what can only be described as unethical and unprofessional practices of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center.

I have spoken to countless people at the hospital and after the last conversation I had with an employee at Saint Joseph’s, I am left with no other choice than to not only write about it, but hire an attorney because these people are lying at every level and one can only assume I am just a drop in bucket of lies. I am standing up for not only myself, but for those who are not strong enough to stand up. If they are billing me for thousands of dollars of services that were not provided, and I was admitted for less than 24 hours, what is going on with people who are there for prolonged periods of time, or those who don’t have health insurance? As for my insurance, that is another fascinating lesson with this surgery. Medicine is amazing, but it is also very dirty and money driven.

I received a bill from the hospital for $1859.76. There was no breakdown of what it was for, just a lump sum. I had already paid for the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, so I called the hospital to ask for a breakdown of the charges, what was paid by my insurance coverage, and what the balance of $1859.76 included. They provided me with a list of charges, but there was something fishy going on. They billed $7570.51 in pharmacy charges. I was there for less than 24 hours and the only things I took was 3 Vicodin and a package of Halls throat lozenges. They billed $1840.00 for physical therapy, and I never had any physical therapy. There was also a charge of $54211.01 for Medical Supplies and $62900.00 for the operating room. I accept being charged for what they provided, but they did not provide all they have billed for. Period.

The big issues I had however were with the pharmacy and physical therapy charges. I called the hospital and said I was disputing the charges and wanted them to be reviewed. I was transferred to a woman named Jenny Ritchie in the Business Office, and explained everything to her. She told me she was going on vacation and would call me when she got back in a week. She never called. I called her back three times and finally got a hold of her. She apologized for not being in touch and needed me to explain everything to her again. I told her the hospital would not provide me a breakdown of the pharmacy charges. I also explained I was being charged for physical therapy I never received. She told me she would investigate and get back to me. I never heard from her.

A couple of weeks later I receive a letter from Saint Joseph’s telling me they had investigated my bill and determined it was correct and the bill was now due. I called the Business Office but nobody would take my call. While waiting for a call back I received a letter from Wendy Katsiotis, who is a Supervisor with the Inpatient Physical Therapy Department. A woman I’d never spoken to. Her letter let me know she investigated my case and it had been closed. I’m not sure how it can be properly investigated without anyone ever speaking to me, so I called her to ask. I explained I never received physical therapy in the hospital.  I told her I met the physical therapist, but had declined treatment in the hospital as I have been doing physical therapy for a year and was good to go. She told me she spoke to the physical therapist on duty during my stay, and she assured her she not only consulted with me, but took me on a walk around the hospital floor. I assured her that was not at all true and never happened.  She told me there “were a couple people on her floor who she thinks would totally lie, but not the girl assigned to me”. So they lie, but not the girl who met me?

I explained I never received treatment and did not go for a walk. She then told me that I was too high to remember. Considering they charged me for $7000.00 of narcotics, that might make sense, but no. I told her it would make no sense to walk around a woman who was high and had a new neck. Ms. Katsiotis then asked me if perhaps I had an opioid addiction and could function while high. So I was clear, I reiterated that only some of her employees lie and they provide physical therapy to people who are high. She said yes, wished me well with my new neck, and that was that. I called back Ms. Ritchie and got through, only to be told it was my word against theirs and the case was closed. Oy vey with these people. I then called my insurance company to let them know what was going on.

The people at Blue Shield of California were lovely. I heard from Chrystal H., and Dani C., both in the Grievance Department. I then spoke to their supervisor Danielle, who listened. She said they would investigate the charges, but at the end of the day they had a contact with the hospital, so they were able to charge what they wanted and there was not a lot Blue Shield could do about it. I did not have physical therapy, I did not have $7000.00 worth of opioids in less than 24 hours, and there is simply no way that 20 hours at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center should be billing $152,061.52 when the anesthesiologist and surgeon were paid for separately. This is unethical business practices. They are lying and it shockingly seems to be completely legal. Not cool.

I have called the hospital and asked for arbitration of the bill. I was assured someone would call me, but that was 8 days ago and no call. Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center has billed incorrectly, call me an opioid addict, told me their staff lies, and never once called to ask me what happened during my stay. I can only imagine what they get away with when nobody asks questions. I am grateful and thankful my neck is doing great, but I am not paying the bill because it is a lie. Not only are they charging for things that didn’t happen, they’re smirking while they do it because they’re protected by a contract with the insurance companies. They’ve never come across someone like me however. Don’t mess with an angel, and buckle up when an angel is keeping the faith.

Dating 101: A Week in LA


I sometimes think I shouldn’t write about my bad dating experiences because at some point one cannot read the huge volume of shared information and not assume it must be me who is the problem. While occasionally embarrassing, it is only when I write about what I go through, and other women share what they have gone through, that I realize I am not alone. Dating truly sucks and one can only hope each bad date gets us closer to our last date. We must pray the last date comes when we find love, and not when we give up on dating.

I was contacted by five men this week through online dating. Here is a look into how it went.

Man #1 – “I was married for 30 years. The last 5 were very lonely. When the kids were all grown and out of the house I had the courage to put myself first and leave. I want to be happy for the last part of my life. I am going to laugh and enjoy things. I want to travel, not be told what to do every second of everyday. I want to wear what I want, eat what I want, and meet a woman who is open to a threesome and anal sex. I’ve waited thirty years to be this free. I am not sure I can find what I want in a Jewish woman, but I’d like to, and you seem really terrific.”

Man #2 – “For the record, I am actually 66 not 60. I didn’t want to limit who searched for me. The pics are from when I was 60 though, so I’m not deceiving as much as I am fudging a little bit. Hahahahaha.”

Man #3 – “I’ve read your blog. You are so funny. Wow. You have really had some colorful dates. Time for you to meet a mensch! If it turns out I am your Prince Charming can you get me free advertising with the Jewish Journal? You could be good for business!”

Man #4 – “You are a beautiful woman. Your eyes are stunning. Would love for you to send me a picture in your bathing suit then we can make a plan to go out.”

Man #5 – “I’m so glad you called. What was your name again? So glad you called. Who is this? What is your name? Hello? Have we met yet? Oh man, I’m a little drunk. Who is this?”

So….. I will be spending the weekend at home. I will indulge in a cocktail or two, maybe try a new recipe for something yummy, and enjoy the company of Fiddles the cat. There is always the possibility I will be contacted for a date, or perhaps I will reach out to a man for a date. There is also the possibility I will win the lottery or meet the man of my dreams in the booze aisle. Anything can happen so I am going to buy a lottery ticket, go to Shabbat services at Nashuva, and pick up some vodka on my way home. By vodka of course I mean vodka and tequila.

I am hoping for the best and fighting the urge to throw in the towel. It would be easy to get another cat and call it a day because dating is hard, but love is grand and sex matters, so we must remember good things come those who wait. I have been waiting a long time, but there is enough good sprinkled in with the bad to keep me hopeful. Dating requires hope, and vodka, so I am keeping a sense of humor and keeping the faith.

A Bad Day Only Lasts 24 Hours


I woke up at 5:00 this morning and from the moment I opened my eyes my day has been getting worse. Between family stuff, work stuff, pet stuff, and this oppressive heatwave, I am emotionally and physically exhausted, and the day hasn’t really even started. It has been such an epically horrible morning that the joy that normally comes when Friday rolls in is not there. The good news is that a bad day only lasts 24 hours, so the countdown is on towards a better tomorrow.

I am a person who was born with the ability to count my blessings. Not all people are, so I am grateful I have this important gift. I am not complaining because my life is good, but there are some days when I just want to through my hands in the air and scream. Scream and cry. Mostly cry because I am not much of a screamer. I happen to look pretty when I cry, which I am sure the cat is thankful for since she is the one who is comforting me. Thank God for this cat. I love her. I am officially a cat lady.

When one thing goes wrong, it is easy to pile everything else onto the one bad thing, and before you know you have created a pile of crap. It is silly, but I suppose human nature to let one bad thing spin everything out of control. I will sit and admire the pile I have built for a little bit longer. Then I will get up, dust myself off, knock down the pile, deal with the one thing that got it started, say a prayer, and focus on counting my blessings. Bad days happen, but thank God life goes on, and life is good. Amen.

I’m going to take a deep breath, wipe my tears, hug my cat, call my mother, and take comfort in the fact there are now only 20 hours left in this bad day. If you are also building an unnecessary pile of crap, I get it. You are not alone and it will be okay. Get through today and start tomorrow fresh. Your bad day only lasts 24 hours so there is an end in sight. I’m counting down the hours in the day and the hours until cocktail time. This too shall pass so I am keeping the faith.

Dating 101 – Texting


I have said it before and I will say it again, I am not big on texting. Of course there are times when I text, but do not think it is a particularly valuable form of communication. I use texting for quick messages, or to check in, but having full blown discussion by text are not something I do or am interested in.  Texting is for kids. It is also a very bad idea when you are trying to date someone new.

There is too much room for misinterpretation. When you meet someone new you do not know the nuances of their voice, so you can read a text in a tone that was not intended by the writer. Additionally, if you have never met someone, but have exchanged number in the hope of talking, texting is simply stupid. I think it is also a red flag. If a man sends texts rather than call, one has to wonder why.

I do not trust a man who only communicates by text. I cannot think of why a person would not be able to find a minute to make a call. Even if the call is to say they are unable to talk, that call should be made. If he has kids, then he steps away from the kids and makes a call. It takes the same amount of time to text you can’t talk, as it does to call and say the same thing.

Important to note that when you know someone, and have or are starting a relationship, texting is fine because there is less of a chance of misunderstanding what is being written. I text a lot with my son, and my siblings, but we know each other, and we know that while texting is convenient at the moment, a call will follow. To just communicate by text is strange to me and I don’t do it.

I recently met a man online who is big on texting. So much so that 99% of our communication was done over text, and 50% of my texts were to tell him I do not like texting. He didn’t get it, and I kept waiting for him to get it, but he didn’t. He just kept texting. After two weeks, I just stopped responding and so he stopped texting. Two weeks? I know, pathetic.

There was something very compelling about him, and his eyes were so blue I was mesmerized, but I can’t help but wonder why texting was his thing. I thought maybe he had a wife, or a girlfriend, or perhaps a parole officer who is monitoring his phone log. I don’t know, and at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter. He likes to text and I don’t text, so that is the end of that.

Sidebar: When you are in a meeting at work, or at an event, or simply busy with life and cannot talk, getting a text from someone you are interested in is a great thing. Getting a flirty sex, or perhaps a sexy text, can make your day and start your heart fluttering, but those texts can only be good if they are accompanied by phone calls and real life interaction. One does not make sense without the other one. it’s not rocket science gentlemen.

I’m still dating and remain hopeful. I am honestly amazed it is this hard to meet someone I want to invest in. My heart is open, and I am putting myself out there, so it will happen. There will be a man who knows texting is not the only way to get in touch. Hopefully I’ll find him while I still have my own teeth and a healthy sex drive. I am 52, so the chances may be dwindling, but my odds are better if I’m keeping the faith.

Motherhood 101 – Travelling


My son Charlie is wrapping up a 17-day vacation in Japan. He is with one of his best friends, and they are traveling around the country not only seeing the sights, by experiencing the culture and meeting the people of Japan. They have encountered nothing but kindness and generosity. I am impressed with the beauty of not only the country, but her people. Thank you to this enchanting place and her residents for taking such great care of my son.

Charlie has taken me with him on his trip, which has been simply thrilling. Thanks to modern technology I have walked through the bamboo forest, seen a sumo wrestling match, watched a blue fin tuna auction, fed monkeys and deer, and lit a wishing stick in a Buddhist temple. I have been on a bullet train and strolled in the rain through busy and exciting streets. I believe seeing the world is important and am so happy my son is able to have these experiences. It really expands your world view to actually see the world in person.

Sidebar: Important to note that while I’m sure I sound like a supportive and loving mother when it comes to Charlie traveling, in the interest of full disclosure, you should know I am actually a crazy person. I track the movement of his flights and train rides, I ask him to text me when he is in for the night, and I have asked him 422 times if he has his epi pen with him.  Each time he goes away I relax a little bit more, but I am a Jewish mother through and through and the truth is there will ever never be a trip where I don’t worry and that will be not only with Charlie, but with his wife and kids too when come along. Luckily he takes it all in stride, humors me, and includes me in ways I haven’t even demanded. I am thankful he is such a good boy, and grateful for vodka.

I am sending best wishes to the people in Japan who are dealing with the heavy rains and flooding. I hope you stay safe. To my Charlie, enjoy the last few days of your wonderful trip. Be safe, have fun, eat strange things, be kind, take pictures, and be aware of how blessed you are to see the world. I am so thankful you have included me on your adventure. I really enjoyed Japan and can’t wait to see Scotland with you this fall. Travelling is a wonderful reminder to keep the faith.

 

 

Blogging 101 – Happy Anniversary


I wrote my very first blog for the Jewish Journal on July 9th, 2009. It is hard to believe I have been sharing my life here for nine years. When I started my son had just had his Bar Mitzvah, which was the catalyst that got this blog started. Charlie becoming a man changed how he viewed me, and how he viewed our life together. He turned 13 and immediately became concerned with taking care of me. I had been a single parent since he was a baby, and he felt his Bar Mitzvah marked a change in our relationship. He was going to be the man in my life.

He was very vocal about being worried about my being alone. At 13 he was looking ahead to a day he would be grown up and moving out, and he didn’t want me to be alone. He had a well thought out conversation with me, explaining that I needed to find a good man. He had clear ideas about what type of man it should be, and did not hesitate to share his opinions with me. It was sweet and kind and lovely. It was also daunting, intimidating, and stressful. There was now a clock ticking for me to find love and so I started to not only date, but blog all about it. I never could have known it would last this long, and am surprised it has.

There were good dates, bad dates, and nightmare dates. There was hope, love, and heartache. I have learned a lot about myself during the life of this blog. I became a better mother, a more grounded Jew, and an increasingly vocal liberal. By sharing my opinions about things, and inviting people into my life with Charlie, I discovered I was a great mother, and a decent and kind human being. I am a survivor of many things and have written with bravery and freedom. There is nothing about my life I have not shared here, and that is both empowering and scary.

I have often referred to this blog as a love letter to my son, and it really is. I have written with sometimes painful honesty about my life. I have no regrets about anything I have shared and am blessed beyond measure to have had people share their stories in return. I have built a family here of people who have become my teachers, friends, advocates, protectors, and cheerleaders. I have received real love and unbelievable hate. At the end of the day the good always outweighed the bad, and I know how lucky I am to have this platform.

Thank you to the Jewish Journal. They have encouraged me to share without fear. Rob Eshman is my hero and I will forever be grateful to him for bringing me on board. David Suissa is my celebrity crush and inspires me to write. My writing brings David headaches with demands to fire me. Important to note that every time I say Trump has dementia and his supporters are morons, there is a call to fire me, which only makes me want to mention Trump is a loser and his inbred supporters are garbage every time I write, even if the blog is not at all about Trump.

As I begin my 10th year with the Jewish Journal I am hopeful that this will be my last year. I have said I would write this blog until I found real love and got married again. I honestly thought that day would have come long before now, and thought I was close a couple of times, but here I am. Charlie is now 22 and currently on vacation in Japan. He calls me every day, and video chats me from places he thinks I would like to see. Yesterday we looked in amazement at the bamboo forest, walked along the flooded river, and fed monkeys and deer. I am truly blessed.

Thank you to my son, who is the love of my life and the most incredible person I know. Thank you for letting me write this blog and share our lives Charlie. You are an amazing young man and I am proud of you. Keeping the Faith is for you. I love you. To my readers, there are no words to properly express my thanks to you. You have held my hand for nine years and I am grateful for all of you. You make me laugh, wipe my tears, and embrace my voice. Thank you for reading and thank you for reminding me to count my blessing while keeping the faith.

 

My Immigration to America


When my son was a baby he went to daycare. I was a single parent who had to work, so while it broke my heart to not be able to stay home with him, I found the best possible daycare I could, and went to work. He did well and thrived with the lovely women who took care of him. It was very hard on me, but not so much for him as he was only six months old and unaware he was in daycare. One day when Charlie was a little shy of two however, I took him to daycare and he was not having it. He had what can only be described as a catastrophic meltdown.

I tried to calm him down, they tried to calm him down, and before long we were both crying and inconsolable. The owner of the daycare came and tried to help, but it was a mess. After about 20 minutes they literally had to peel him out of my arms. He looked at me while screaming his head off, calling for me, and his eyes begging me not to go. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and spent the next hour talking to the owner of the daycare, telling her I was going to quit my job and Charlie would not be back. She told me it would be fine and said I should go to work.

There were no camera phones or video chatting back then, so I just had to leave, not able to see him or he would have lost it again. I waited out of sight for another two hours until he stopped crying. I then went to work and cried for the rest of the day. I could hear the seconds ticking away in my head like a time bomb until I was able to go get him. The recollection of that day for this blog makes me cry. I cry for my young self, newly divorced and raising a baby on my own, and I cry for all the mothers and fathers at the borders who are having their babies ripped away.

I had nightmares of my son screaming for a long time, and he was home with me. Imagine what the mothers and fathers at the borders are feeling not knowing where their children are. What are the children thinking while they are alone, on concrete floors, in cages, without their parents? It breaks my heart. I am devastated by what is happening at our border. Devastated as a mother and as an immigrant. I have been an immigrant 3 times in my life. Once when my parents left Israel after the war for England, and again when my family moved to Canada to build a life for us.

The third time was when I immigrated to the United States at the age of 24 to start my life over after surviving a violent crime. Important to note that I came here for vacation and never left. I stayed illegally for a year. Because I was from Canada, nobody batted an eyelash. I lived here in Los Angeles, worked illegally for cash under the table at a doctor’s office, and nobody ever asked me a single question. I then got engaged, got married, and was issued a Green Card. It was easy because of where I came from. I blended in and  would do it all again to have left Canada when I did.

I understand why these people are risking their lives to escape from their homelands. I understand it, and frankly I support it. I believe people should be able to start over in a place that is safe and welcoming. I would do the same thing if it meant I could give my child a safe place to grow up and pursue his dreams. As for the people who say they are all dangerous killers and rapists who are taking our jobs, I can only shake my head and feel sorry for you at the same time I want to punch you in the face. Trump and his cold, heartless cult followers are crazy.

I am embarrassed by this administration. I am worried about the people who are being detained. I want to welcome every single child waiting to be reunited with their parents into my home for a hug, a bed, and simple kindness. I want to hug every parent who is praying to get the children back in the same way I was hugged at daycare. I want to understand how it is possible that people support this president and his dangerous and clearly failing mind. There but for the grace of God my friends. One of the blessings that comes with being blessed, is sharing your good fortune. As a county we should welcome people to share in our random good luck of being here already.

I’m guessing some dumbass Trump supporters will read this and contact the authorities to have me deported. It’s happened before and it will happen again. I find it quite entertaining. Almost 30 years ago I was an illegal immigrant so if they want to come for me, come on. I’ll wait here for you. You can reach me at angel@jewishjournal.com. Oy to the vey with these people. We can do better America. We are better. The only shot in hell we have to turn this around is to vote. VOTE. My message to those who were lucky enough to build a life here, remember your journey and where your family came from. We are a nation built by immigrants. We are what makes America great, so use your voice to vote. Make the journey easier for those coming after us, so they can keep the faith.

Dating 101: The Trump Test


I cannot date a man who thinks Donald Trump is a good president. I simply cannot do it. I have tried, but at the end of the day it doesn’t work for me. Hands that voted for Trump do not deserve to touch my breasts. My boobs are fabulous, and Trump is a shmuck. Not happening. I can tell you I love this country. I am an immigrant who is living the American dream. My son was born here and I am blessed to call America home. My disgust for the president is about the man who is currently in the position, not the country. Donald Trump is truly dangerous.

This is not about my political views however. It is about my dating life. I am looking for my bashert. I believe he is out there and while some days I believe it more strongly than others, there is always hope. Remaining hopeful is the biggest struggle with dating because if you give up hope, you give up. I am currently dating online and in my profile I have written the following: Important to note that if there is anything about the current president that you are not offended by, we won’t be a match. It matters to me, so I put it out there.

Today I received an email from a man in Woodland Hills. He sent me the following note: what are you talking about? Trump is for Israel and Obama nor Hillary are. Trump moved US embassy to Israel on its 70th anniversary. Trump is for the Constitution. Hillary is not. How can you be against a president that recognizing enforcing the freedoms of the Constitution? Oy vey. Stupid is exhausting and I don’t have the time or patience to deal with someone this stupid. Does he think the US just put an embassy in Israel? I can’t.

I am trying to break old patterns when it comes to dating. I want to be happy and I am smart enough to know that I don’t know what my person will look like, or what he does for a living. I am looking for kindness, honesty, laughter, loyalty, and great sex. That’s my list and I am not willing to compromise on any of it. The Trump test is frankly pathetic, but necessary. I can’t respect a man who respects this president, and I’d rather be alone than with a Trump supporter. It is a blanket statement, but I am sticking to it.

I am writing this blog while I watch the new dating show The Proposal, which proves that my dating life is not that bad. The thirst is real and the desperation of some women is suffocating. It is also hilarious. At the end of the day it is a crap shoot and finding love can take a long time, but love and luck go together, so I hope I am lucky. The only thing I know for sure is that the man I fall in love with will not be a Trump supporter. To the charming man who wrote me today from Woodland Hills, I wish you well because life must be hard when you are so stupid. Bless your heart. I am laughing, hopeful, and keeping the faith.

Happy Father’s Day


I have been a single mom since my son was a baby. I was divorced before he turned one and while his father lives close by and has a relationship with our son, I raised this boy with no financial, emotional, spiritual, or physical support. My son is a wonderful human being because even though he has a dad, I have been his mother and father. Being a single parent is a remarkable job for remarkable people.

I taught my son to ride a bike, took him on his first fishing trip, passed on my faith, comforted him through loss, explained sex, taught him to respect women and himself. I encouraged him to follow his dreams and that no dream was impossible. He was raised to help those less fortunate and embrace everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, the name of their God, or who they love. He is a good man.

Being a single parent is as difficult as it is rewarding. I raised my son in a city where I had no family, so I created one. I leaned on my friends, temple, Rabbi, teachers, parents of his friends, and employers to help raise this remarkable human. I did not and could not lean on his dad. In looking back at my life as a single parent, I am proud of myself, wish it had been different, and am grateful for our life together.

When my son was one, my father sent me flowers for Father’s Day. He told me he was proud of me and said I was a great mom and a wonderful dad. It meant a lot to me that the man I loved and respected more than any other man in the world acknowledged I was doing everything and being everyone for my son. I raised a boy to be a man on my own so Father’s Day is interesting for me.

Life as a single parent is full of blessings. There is an us against the world connection. As single parents we cry harder, laugh deeper, worry more, and pray longer because we are alone. Life is loud because it is just you listening, and life is silent because you are by yourself. It is a life of sacrifices and rewards. I am a strong and proud single parent because the title makes me a super hero.

This morning my son made me breakfast and bought me flowers for Father’s Day, then he went to spend the day with his dad. He always makes this day special for me and I appreciate it. It makes my heart swell that he understands the roles I have played in his life and honors me, I am wishing a Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, and to all the mothers who are sometimes father’s too. Enjoy this day.

Happy Father’s Day those who have lost their dads and wish they were still here. Happy Father’s Day to sons of single mothers who are the men in their mom’s lives, and to the moms who are everything for their kids. Happy Father’s Day to men who are going to become dads for the first time, and dads who are raising their kids alone. Do right by your kids and respect the women who made you fathers.

To my own beloved father, Bob Angel, I love you and miss you every day. I want to call you and tell you what is going on and have you guide me. I will never be too old to need you, and I will never stop missing you. Your children love you and your grandchildren are perfect pieces of you, carrying on your legacy and keeping you alive. We love you Dad, and we know you are watching, so we are keeping the faith.

 

Motherhood 101: The Jurassic Movies


The original Jurassic Park came out in 1993. I remember seeing it and being scared to death. I’m not one to see big budget action/adventure movies like that, but it was a big deal movie so I went. It was the only one of the trio I saw in the theater. My son was born in 1996 and I watched Jurassic Park 1, 2, and 3 with him at home on VHS tape beginning when he was about 5 years old. 

I thought he was too young, but we watched, he held onto me occasionally, but overall was more fascinated than scared. He thought the dinosaurs were everything. He became an instant fan and obsessed with the T-Rex. We bought books, action figures, clothes and posters as his love affair with all things Jurassic began. I was even scared watching it years later on TV, but my son was mesmerized. 

When the first one came out I was working at Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, which was located on the Universal Studios lot. My son waited a long time to meet the height requirements for the park’s Jurassic Park Ride. When he was tall enough he rode it a lot. By a lot of course I mean the operators knew my kid by name. He would ride 10 times in a row. I could manage 3 rounds, then he’d go over and over again by himself, waving as he plummeted down.

My son had seen the Jurassic Park movies countless times, but never on the big screen until Jurassic World. It is a moment in my motherhood I treasure because we saw it together. Now with the arrival of Jurassic World 2, I can tell you we saw it last night and it was great. I jumped a lot, but my son simply sat in wonder. It is a very good movie, Chris Pratt is great in it, and I recommend seeing it.  It makes me happy that these movies continue to be something special that is just ours. Ours and a gazillion other people, but you know what I mean.

With so many movie franchises during his lifetime, there were some we went to, and others he went to with his dad, but Jurassic has always been just ours. We have shared these movies together and still talk about watching them when he was little. He still has some of the toys from his childhood, and remembers his dinosaur themed birthday parties. I remember like yesterday when he realized Barney was just a Jurassic Park wannabe.

It feels like just yesterday that I watched Jurassic Park with my son and I can recall with real clarity his expression of wonderment as he never once took his eyes off the screen. I remember buying him Jurassic Park toys for Hanukah and him being so excited he screamed out how much he loved me and jumped up and down saying he could not believe what was happening. I have a real affection for these movies as they have helped define my life as a mother.  

My baby boy is 22 years old now, but when I look over at him watching the dinosaurs, I will flash back to him being 5, sitting on the couch, holding my hand, and staring in wonder as if they were real. He may never understand how important seeing these movies is to me, and probably thinks I’m ridiculous for insisting we see them together, but that is okay. My heart will be full, my pulse will be racing, dinosaurs will arrive, time will stand still, and I will be keeping the faith.

Chicken Run


Last week as I began my drive to work, on the same route I always take, I made a right hand turn and almost ran into a chicken. I thought it was a joke at first and looked around to see where the hidden cameras were, but all I saw was another chicken, just hanging out on the street. I put my hazard lights on and got out of the car, where I was quickly met by a rooster and another chicken. They were just walking around, talking quietly amongst themselves, and not at all spooked by the cars or people who had gathered to stare at them.

There were now three cars stopped, all trying to shoo the chickens off the road. They were the cutest things and I wanted to put them in my car and take them home. As we looked around trying to figure out where they came from, I thought about the movie Chicken Run and wondered if they were trying to escape. If you have not seen that movie, you should. It is fantastic and all I could think about as I followed chickens up the road. I looked around the neighborhood, and even knocked on the door of the house they were outside of, but no luck.

There were now 7 chickens in the street, so I called LA Animal control to ask what I should do. I was told there had been no other calls about them, but if people started to call that they were a traffic hazard, they would send someone out. I asked what would happen to them, and was told they would be euthanized! I quickly hung up, certain the chicken killers were tracking my location, and tried to get the chickens off the road. After about 15 minutes of chicken wrangling, I sadly needed to leave to get to work and was bummed to leave them.

I have been worried about the chickens, but am certain the owners realized they had flown the coop and have them safely back at home. I have been a vegetarian for about ten years and after encounters like I had with the chickens, I am glad I am. Every morning I take the same route, hoping to see them again, and next time I will be prepared. I have a bag of bread crumbs in my car, and if I come across them, they will get a snack. Should one accidently jump into my car, what can I do? I’ll take it home, introduce it to the cat, and keep the faith.

Morgan Freeman: Good Man, Bad Flirt


I think Morgan is a pervy old man who innocently flirted with women. Based on the news we are hearing, I simply do not think he should be taken down the path of being a man who has sexually assaulted women. By comparison, I think Donald Trump is a sexual predator who has no boundaries. I mean no disrespect to any woman who has been assaulted, belittled, manipulated, intimidated, raped, or had her career damaged by men who abuse power, but we are walking on a tightrope and damage is done with one accusation, so we must be clear on not only what we are saying, but how we say it. These are sensitive times.

There is a difference between being a man who does not know how to flirt, and a man who knows what he is saying and doing is wrong, but does it anyway. In watching interviews with Mr. Freeman where he is accused of harassment, I just don’t see it. I don’t see how anyone would see it as anything other than an old man flirting. I’m not saying he should be excused because he is old, but there is something charming about what he said and the way he said it. At the end of the day he is rich and famous, but he is also just an 80-year-old man and the CNN reporter has made ridiculous accusations.

Sexual harassment is not what Mr. Freeman did, and CNN is trying to spin nothing into something, but the something is nothing. I hope this story goes away and Mr. Freeman is not adversely affected by this desperation. I welcome Mr. Freeman to flirt with me and would happily flirt back. Only difference is that I would be good at it. Bless him. Important to note I am in no way trying to dissuade women from coming forward, or questioning a woman’s truth. I am simply saying that for this particular man, and this particular instance, there is nothing to see here folks. I stand with women and also stand with Morgan Freeman.

We live in a time when people are encouraged to be brave and come forward with their experiences. It has been a long time coming and for someone who dealt with this 30 years ago, I am in awe of these changes. Thirty years ago I was the victim of a violent sexual assault and the experience of going to the police, pressing charges, and going through two trials was ultimately more difficult that the actual assault. I marvel at the strides we have taken, but know we have a long way to go. I am a woman of prayer so I will pray for those who come forward, pray for those falsely accused, and pray we continue to move forward while keeping the faith.

 

Memorial Day 2018


Every single day, including this Memorial Day, someone will die or be injured while serving this country on our behalf.  It is our duty to remember this weekend is about the troops, past and present, and not just about a BBQ or day off of work. It’s important to take a moment to acknowledge and thank our armed forces.

Remember those who are overseas.  Remember those here at home.  Remember those who are coming home injured. Remember those who are getting ready to go.  Remember every single person who has ever put on a uniform and served the United States. They dedicate their lives to service so we can live ours. To every man and woman who is serving in the armed services, every mother and father who has a child serving, every child who has a parent serving, every family who is waiting for someone to come home, and every family who has lost a member of their family, thank you.

There are kids serving who are younger than my own child.  There are men and women serving who are missing their kids.  It is a huge sacrifice to be in the military.  I can’t wrap my head around what it must feel like to be on a plane heading overseas, or on a plane coming home, but I imagine heading in either direction is scary.

If you see someone in uniform stop and say thank you. Let them know you appreciate what they do for us. Thank you to everyone who sacrifices every day to make this a great country. Your bravery and sacrifices are valued and matter. You are in our hearts, we are waiting for you to come home, pray for you, and are keeping the faith.

 

Dating 101: Hookers and Judgment


Yesterday I was written to online by a 59-year-old man. He was attractive and had written an honest and funny profile about himself. He stated he was newly divorced and just starting to date. It was charming and I appreciated the honesty, so I wrote back. After 2 notes I gave him my number and he called. We are grownups, and texting and email is painful when getting to know someone, so we quickly jumped to a call. He reached out and we began the dating interview.

I found him to be interesting and witty, and was enjoying our chat, until I wasn’t. When he said he was newly divorced, what he meant was that he had signed his divorce papers last week. While he has been out of his marital home for a year, he is barely divorced and still hanging onto his old life. He spoke a lot about his ex-wife, which is fine, until it wasn’t. I suggested that perhaps he hadn’t been divorced long enough to know how it would affect him. I also told him dating had changed a lot in the years he had been married.

I explained that while I had been divorced forever, I remember my first relationship after divorce and it was doomed from the start because I arrived with so much baggage that still needed to be unpacked. He let me know he had unpacked all his bags already and was good to go. I explained that after 24 years of marriage, perhaps he should sew some wild oats and have single fun before diving into a relationship. Sleep with new people and discover who he was at this stage of his life.

He then assured me he had sewn his oats already. Without being prompted to go on, he let me know he had a sexless marriage and had spent the last few years of said marriage sleeping with hookers. He felt it was the respectful thing to do because he wanted the marriage to work, just needed sex, so he made it a business decision rather than an emotional one. Oh. My. God. Who tells someone they just met, and are interested in dating, they not only cheated, but paid for sex with hookers?

Important to note I have no issues with women who have sex for money. I have a good friend who worked as a prostitute to put herself through college. We met a few years ago while getting our nails done and I not only love her, but have no judgement about how she makes her money. When it came to this man however, I found myself sitting in a pile of judgement. I don’t care that he paid for sex, but that did it while married “to respect his wife”, is ridiculous and disgusting.

I can applaud him for being so honest I suppose, but no. He asked if I would like to go out on a date and I chose to decline. I also chose to suggest to him that perhaps he withhold some information from women moving forward. There is a lot to be said for honesty, but there is some information that simply does not need to be shared. I cannot think of any good that come out of my knowing the man I am dating not only cheated of his wife, but did it with hookers on a regular basis and over a long period of time.

It has been an interesting few days in my dating life. I was asked out by a man who was 82. I was also asked out by a man who was 25. They weren’t even the weird one. I was asked out by a man who is on parole and has limited mobility. Whoever said dating was fun, was drunk. Not tipsy and cute drunk, but vomiting on yourself and falling down stairs into a gutter drunk. I have been dating for a long time and I am tired. Not tired of dating, because I know it is necessary, but tired of the game.

I remain hopeful, which is key. Without hope there is no need to keep dating. I will meet a great man one of these days. He will be Jewish, not married, not wearing a parole tracker, and the only hooker he is interested in will be the one I am roll playing while we have a sexy night in Vegas. There is the right man out there looking for me. We will stumble upon each other one of these days. I simply need to pay attention, keep my eyes open, keep my heart open, and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dating 101: Highs & Lows


I had a date with a man I found to be physically and mentally attractive. He is a lovely man who is 51, never married, and has no kids. He’s worked at the same company for 30 years and is dedicated to his job. He is fiercely loyal to his friends, and has a great sense of humor. I liked him very much on the phone, and we spoke for a week before schedules allowed us to meet. When we finally managed to find a night to go out, we decided on dinner and a movie.

We met at the restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised to see he looked just like his pictures. He said he was 5’11”, I’m guessing he was closer to 5’9”, but since I’m only 5’3”, it wasn’t a big deal. We ordered a couple drinks and settled into easy conversation. We had a great time over dinner and then went into the movie. We held hands, which felt wonderful. I had taken an Uber so I could have a drink, and he offered to take me home, which I felt surprisingly comfortable with.

We left the theater and walked towards his car. We laughed together, had a kiss, and it was nice. It was a regular date, with a regular guy, and I was feeling good about it. He is not Jewish, but I am trying to think outside the dating box I have built for myself, because I’m not having luck dating within the parameters I have drawn around myself. It is scary to try new things, but I am trying, and that is what matters. One good date can change everything.

So we are strolling to the car, I’m thinking we will make out a little bit, and feeling good about the whole night. Then we got to his car and it was over. I am not a materialistic person, and I don’t care about what a man does for a living or what kind of car he has, but I simply cannot date a man who drives a purple El Camino with hydraulics. If that makes me shallow and judgmental, when then I will receive that and try to better myself, but I cannot get on board with that car.

We spoke about the car, the car groups he belongs to, the amount of car shows he goes to a year, the friends he is close to through his car club, and how his social life is woven into the car. No. I am not spending my weekends at car shows. I am also not putting my new bionic neck into a hydraulic car parade. I appreciate that this paints me in an unflattering light, but after almost a decade of sharing my life here, I am not going to start leaving stuff out just to save face.

Bumps in the road make me think I should stick to Jewish men, or just get another cat, but I need to be brave and not let this be a setback. I’m embarrassed the car was a deal breaker, but in the end it wasn’t the car as much as the lifestyle that came with it. I know who I am and what I want, so at this point in my life I need to stay true to me. One hopes each first date gets you closer to your last first date, so I am hoping and keeping the faith.

Cocktails and Motherhood


When my son turned 21 we went out for a drink. It was strange to have a cocktail with him and it didn’t feel as cool as I thought it would. I watched him drink a beer and all I could see was a baby drinking. It actually made me a little sad. When you have a drink with your kid you are forced to see them as a grown up, which is bittersweet. It was uncomfortable to drink with him, but at the same time I was proud my delicious baby was now a remarkable man. I am blessed to be this human’s mother and I thank God for every single moment we have together, but drinking with him was a hard pill to swallow.

I turned 52 last week and went to San Francisco for the weekend with my son. We walked, ate great food, and had a few drinks. I love a cocktail, as my readers know, and since it was my birthday, I enjoyed several libations. I started with a drink at the airport and ended with a drink at the airport. My son drank too, but it was different this time. He was still my baby, but also my friend, and it was lovely. He isn’t a big drinker, but enjoys big boy drinks. His cocktails of choice are a Negroni or a Whiskey Sour. I think they taste like cough medicine.

We sat in great bars and talked about life, love, politics, and plans. We laughed and debated, and were also happily quiet together. I love him very much and he is simply my favorite human being. He makes me happy. He makes me think. He makes me grateful. He makes me want to be better. He makes me feel better. He heals me. He eases my sorrow. He is my sunshine. He is my closest confidant. I trust him. Being a mom is hard. Being a single mom is really hard. Having a 22-year-old son allows me to celebrate not only my child, but also myself.

I have spent over twenty-two years being his mother and he is a wonderful human being both because of me, and in spite of me. I have had moments of real greatness as a mother, along with moments of epic failure, but all of them led to now, and now is good. My son is terrific and he loves me. He enjoys my company, asks me for advice, heeds my advice, and makes good choices. I won’t make a habit of having cocktails with my boy, but when it does happen I will embrace the moment. We worked hard to get here and having a cocktail with my son is all about keeping the faith.

 

 

Racism at Starbucks


I go to Starbucks most mornings during my work week. I order my drink via the mobile app and drive by before jumping on the freeway. My Starbucks of choice is very close to two schools and on any given morning there are a lot of kids there. For every one kid that orders a drink, there are three kids just hanging out. They don’t buy anything, just sit, loudly, and wait for the one kid who is getting a drink.

They use every chair, unaware of anyone but themselves, white, and loitering. In the years I’ve been going to Starbucks I have not only never seen anyone get arrested, I’ve never seen an employee of Starbucks ask one of these annoying kids to leave. I have personally waited at Starbucks without buying a drink many times. I’ve waited for friends, or a blind date, and never been asked to leave or been arrested, no matter how long I sit there.

I have watched the video of two young black men being arrested at Starbucks in Philadelphia and it makes me sad. Sad for not only them, but for every black mother who watches her kids walk out the door, scared of what will happen to them. It is heartbreaking.  I am proud of those two young men for walking out with their heads held high during the humiliating and blatantly racist arrest that happened to them.

I was not there, and I do not know the motivation of the phone call to police, but I am not going to Starbucks this week. It is my way of supporting these two young men. It may seem silly, but it is a way for my voice to be heard, and that is what we all need to do. It is dangerous to be black in America and that should break all of our hearts. Skip going to Starbucks this week. Rise up and keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

Happy Shabbat Birthday to Me


I am turning 52 this weekend. While not one to make a big deal about my birthday, this one feels important. It has been an interesting few years. By interesting, of course I mean difficult and enlightening. I dealt with cancer, neck surgery, my son moving out, changing jobs after a decade, and a very close friend of mine passing away after a valiant fight. It was all rather exhausting and to add insult to injury, as each challenge was tackled and overcome, another challenge was placed in front of me. I am a tough girl, but even I was brought to my knees on more than one occasion.

April 7th, 2018 will mark a new beginning, and it has been a long time coming. As I begin my 52nd year, there is nothing looming over me. I am completely healthy for the first time in three years. I am embracing my empty nest in ways I never thought I would. I have learned the important lesson of never coloring my own hair or cutting my own bangs, instead leaving it to the professionals. I have mastered the art of making the perfect Cosmopolitan. I am aware of my own worth. Most importantly, I know I am a wonderful human being,  terrific mother, and getting better with age.

My life is blessed and I have nothing to complain about. How awesome is that? I am going to go to services tonight and pray with my rabbi because she brings me real joy. Tomorrow I will celebrate my birthday in San Francisco with my son. We will explore a city that matters to us, have an amazing dinner, do some birthday shopping, and have dim sum lunch in Chinatown. A 24-hour getaway with my favorite human. I will walk in the rain, and pause long enough to count my blessings between the martinis I’ll be enjoying. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Birthday to all who celebrate this weekend. Be safe and have fun. I will enjoy the weekend while keeping the faith.

Passover with the LAFD


Last Friday was the first night of Passover.  I got home from Seder, after hours of cooking and cleaning, and settled into a luxurious bath. As I soaked in lavender bubbles, feeling completely relaxed, my smoke detector started to beep. For a quick second I thought about ignoring it because the bath was so good, then snapped out of it and jumped out to see what was going on.

There didn’t appear to be a fire, so I changed the batteries in the smoke detector. When the new batteries were in it resumed beeping, only this time it detected carbon monoxide. I thought perhaps the unit was simply not working and took the batteries out, thinking I’d deal with it the next day. As I got ready for bed I worried I made the wrong decision.

I called 911 and was transferred to the Los Angeles Fire Department. I explained what had happened with the smoke detector and asked what they thought I should do. They told me it was better to be safe than sorry and were on the way. I worried I was taking their time away from someone who was dealing with an actual fire, but was grateful they were coming to check things.

I waited outside for the firetruck to arrive and when it did I was a bit overwhelmed. It is intimidating to have them come to your home, and when they get off the truck and each one is more attractive than the one before, it takes your breath away. I simply do not think there is such a thing as an unattractive firefighter. Each one of these men were absolutely gorgeous.

As they walked in the lead firefighter told me I had a beautiful home, and it made me feel proud. It has been hard getting adjusted to my empty nest and I have slowly been turning my home into a place that reflects more of me as a woman and less of me as a mom, so to have him acknowledge that it looked nice, mattered to me and I felt happy. It was kind of him to say.

They told me it was good that I called because people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning. They assured me it was their job to check what was going on and I should not feel that I had bothered them. They were inside my home for about 10 minutes, confirmed there was no danger, but that the smoke detector was malfunctioning and needed to be thrown out and replaced.

I appreciate the work these brave men and women do. I slept well knowing I was safe and there was nothing to worry about. I hope everyone had a safe and happy start to Passover, and I send my thanks to the Los Angeles Fire Department. To the ridiculously attractive men who came to make sure I was okay, it was a pleasure staring at you. Stay safe out there and keep the faith.

Weekend of Faith


This weekend marks an important time for people of many faiths.  It is Passover and also Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  I am someone whose life is made easier with faith. I’m also one that does not judge people based on faith. The way I see it, faith allows us to lean on something bigger than ourselves, and if it gives us peace, then how we view the higher power doesn’t matter. Faith is a beautiful and powerful thing. It does not need to always be about religion.

I hope those who celebrate the holidays of this weekend will find peace within their faith.  For me, the weekend is about prayer.  Prayers of thanks for my Jewish life, prayers of thanks for my blessed life, and prayers of thanks for the health and happiness of my family and friends. I’m counting my blessings, embracing the history of my people, and taking comfort in the power of so many human beings on the planet praying at the exact same time. It is quite beautiful.

Take time this weekend to be kind to a stranger. Share blessings with people in need and let your faith inspire you to bring light to someone in the dark. Listen to a child laugh, reach out to someone you miss, ease someone’s sorrow, know struggles will pass, make a new plan, love someone, be aware, be happy, be brave, cry tears of joy, hug like you mean it, and enjoy the delicious holiday food. Enjoy the weekend. Celebrate, reflect, and keep the faith.

 

A Prayer for the March


People take part in a "March For Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

We will march
For our children’s sake
We will march
Because standing still is not an option
We will march
Because a new day is coming
We will march
Young and old, hand in hand
We will march
Like the Children of Israel at the foot of
the sea
We will march
Until the raging waters part before us
We will march
Until our leaders act
We will march
In honor of the innocent souls we have lost
We will march
Turning the prayers of our hearts
into action
We will march
“Praying with our feet”
We will march
To the beat of a mournful lament
We will march
With our heads held high
We will march
To finally end the madness
We will march
And we will win, by God,
We will win.

Amen.


Rabbi Naomi Levy is the founder and spiritual leader of Nashuva, a Los Angeles-based Jewish community.

Motherhood in Black and White


My soul is crushed each and every time I hear of the senseless murder of an innocent person at the hands of law enforcement, but the murder of Stephon Clark has left me heartbroken in a different way. Stephon was the same age as my own son and I cannot wrap my head around the way he died, so close to being home safe with his two little kids. This one hurts in a way that feels personal.

Of course they are all personal because we live in this country together, and I cried for Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Gregory Gunn, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and countless others who were murdered but those who were meant to protect them, but I can relate to the Clark family in ways that bring it into my home. Had it been my son in the same situation at Stephon, I can promise you he wouldn’t have been murdered. This is racism, plain and simple.

My son would have been offered a conversation. A chance to explain who he was and what he was doing. My son wouldn’t have 20 bullets blown into him steps from the safety of his home. It is black and white. Stephon Clark was killed because he was black, and when it comes to black people in America, we shoot first and ask questions later. It is 2018 and being black is America is very dangerous.

My son is a proud Jewish man, but if he was in a situation where anti-Semitic things were happening, he could join in the rhetoric to remain safe and get himself out. He would be able to come home because he can become what he needs to be. That is white privilege. That is a blessing afforded my son. I am able to watch him go out into the world with a level of comfort black mothers don’t have.

Ever since my son was very little I would send him off to school or out with his friends with the words, “Be safe out there and make good choices”. Those have been my parting words to him for as long as I can remember. I don’t have to tell him to keep his mouth shut, put his hands in the air, or get down on the ground without answering back. I haven’t raised my son with a fear of authority.

I worry about him 24/7 because I am his mother, and that is what mothers do, but I do not have the same constant fear that black mothers have. It is exhausting to just think about it. I would never want my kid to go outside. It would simply be too big a risk. The black and white reality is that this is about black and white. I cry with every black mother who fears the death of their beautiful children.

We have many problems in this country that need attention. Tomorrow I will march with the students of Parkland in support of changes to gun laws. I will march knowing that Black Lives Matter. I will march because when we unite our voices we can make change. We have to do better. We cannot think we are the greatest country in the world when this keeps happening. Wake up and start keeping the faith.

 

 

Rainy Los Angeles is a Nightmare


It has been raining in Los Angeles and the simple fact is that when rains in LA, the city falls apart. Nobody knows how to drive to begin with, so a small amount of rain causes bad drivers to lose their minds. One would think it was acid falling from the sky and we were all about to die, but alas, it is just water. When it is raining in LA you can immediately tell who is from here, and who came from a place with real weather. Southern Californian natives stick out like a sore thumb. They don’t know how to handle their vehicles in even the lightest sprinkle of water. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

Personally, I could be a NYC cab driver. I grew up in Canada and learned to drive in the rain and snow. I am fearless and able to handle all kinds of weather. Driving is a privilege and if you suck at it, you shouldn’t be given a driver’s license. At the very least there should be restrictions on driving when it is raining. I propose two types of driver’s licenses. One to drive in dry weather, and one for the rain. Everyone takes two tests. Pass one and you can only drive in good weather, pass both, and you also get driving privileges in the rain. Brilliant plan.

I started a new job recently and my commute went from 20 minutes to over an hour. It is a nightmare for a great driver to be stuck on two different freeways and Sunset Boulevard with thousands of people who don’t know how to drive. I do a great deal of praying while I’m driving. Mostly I pray I will not become engulfed with road rage and lay on the horn or flip the bird to a perfect stranger. My son bought me a stuffed Buddha that plays meditation music when you squeeze him. I’ve had it for about 5 months and have replaced the battery twice, which gives you an idea of how often I use him to get some peace.

I often look at the people driving around me and wonder where they’re going. I think about whether they’re driving without prescription contact lenses or glasses. If they bought their driver’s licenses on a black market for people with no depth perception. I wonder how many of the people driving taught their kids how to be bad drivers. Mostly I wonder about how good it would feel to drive to work one day with only good drivers. Even if just for one day I’d love that experience, but it will never happen. Sadly, I fear I may be the only one of my kind. I have yet to meet another good driver in Los Angeles. We really should have a club.

I am at work looking out my window, watching the rain, trying to decide how long it will take me to get home. I figure about two days. We need the rain, and I am grateful we are getting some, but a couple days into the first weather of the season and I am about done. Watching the news of the weather back east, and speaking to my family about all the snow in Canada, watching my local TV weatherman speak of the “storm watch” for Los Angeles is hilarious. By hilarious of course I mean I really need him to stop talking. I’d be willing to bet he is a bad driver, always looking in the mirror to check his hair.

It never rains in California, until it does, and then all hell breaks loose. To my fellow Angelino’s, do us all a favor and just stay home. Call in sick if you need to, but for the love of God, do not get in the car if you are a bad driver. Not sure if you are a good driver? You’re not. Now you know. To those currently dealing with REAL weather, I am sorry. This too shall pass, for us and you. Be safe out there. Don’t drink and drive, text and drive, or talk on the phone and drive. Pay attention and when some cute lady gets annoyed and flips you the bird, just smile, knowing I mean no harm. I’m heading home and keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of a Prayer During a Trying Time


Photo from Max Pixel.

Last Wednesday I had anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery done on my neck. Two of my discs were bulging so badly they were pushing on my spine. My arm had been numb for several months and even though I did physical therapy for over a year in an attempt to avoid the surgery, I could longer wait and the procedure was finally scheduled. Four hours and six screws later, I am recuperating nicely and the benefits of the surgery were instantly felt. I woke up with no numbness or tingling in my arm, and am thrilled with the results.

My procedure was done at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. When I checked in for surgery I immediately asked if I could see the rabbi from the Spiritual Care department for a prayer. I clarified that if a rabbi was not available, I would happily pray with any member of the clergy. I simply wanted to pray with someone dedicated to God, and the religious affiliation was not that important. As I sat with my son and told him how much I wanted for the rabbi to come and say a prayer, and he assured me it would be fine and we could pray on our own, but not to worry because someone was coming.

I was waiting for the nurse to arrive to insert an IV when Chaplain Phil Kiehl walked in. He introduced himself and said he stopped by as he had heard I wanted to pray with him. I almost started to cry I was so happy to see him. He sat with me and my son and took time to get to know us. He asked about the operation, who the surgeon was, who the anesthesiologist was, what my pain was, and what the goal was. After we chatted for a few minutes he joined hands with me and my son and gave what can only be described as a perfect prayer.

It was kind and honest and made me feel very safe in my faith. It was a prayer of compassion and blessings. When Phil left the room, me and my son turned to each other and both said it was the most wonderful prayer and had left us feeling happy and at peace. I went into surgery feeling comfortable with my medical team and embraced by God. The following day as I rested and waited for the doctor to give permission for me to leave the hospital, a woman from the clergy office stopped by. Her name was Rebecca Stringer and she was paying me an unexpected visit to check in on me as she heard I was leaving.

She had a beautiful smile and a warmth I could feel. Her soul was visible and I was profoundly moved by her. We spoke about prayer and the importance it has in both of our lives. We spoke about our children and she shared she had lost a child to cancer. Her beloved little boy had passed away and she spoke of him in a way that painted a picture of love. This angel has a remarkable mother who is rooted in prayer and faith. She helped me more than she could ever know. We did not share the same religion, but we shared a life of faith which was respectful and embracing in a way that I wish it could be for everyone.

She held my hand and said a prayer that made me cry. I will forever remember her generosity of spirit and the feeling it gave me. Her words brought me real healing. We may practice different religions, but we pray to the same God and our exchange was special. I am a woman of faith and have experienced many blessings, but this was a rare moment of an authentic spiritual connection to another human being. We were sisters in prayer and I felt God holding onto us. When you can connect through God, without the judgment of religion, it is remarkable.

When Rebecca left my room I had a feeling of gratitude in the wake of her grace. My surgery was a success and I thank Phil and Rebecca for their kindness. Prayer is personal and mine is generally private, but my prayer this week had company and it was lovely. There is power in prayer and when voices join together it is wonderful. I feel great and am getting stronger each day. I was terrified going into the surgery and am relieved it is over and went so well. Life is good and good health is a blessing. I am grateful, happy, healthy, and keeping the faith.


Ilana Angel writes the Keeping the Faith blog at jewishjournal.com.

Why Pray?


Another horrific mass shooting, this time at a high school in Florida. As has occurred each previous time, a crazed killer with an assault weapon murders more than a dozen innocent people and terrorizes hundreds more; the very people who have stifled any discussion about our addiction to accessible weapons of war, our dismantled mental health systems or our under-supported social safety nets insist that now is not the time for politicized discussions. Instead, they piously offer their sympathies and their prayers.

Always, their prayers. Even as they block any possibility of legislative redress.

Enraged victims, now even more than in the past, have taken to social media to protest: Spare us your prayers! We are way past wanting your sentiments; what we need now is action. Don’t pray — do something. There is a tidal wave of reaction against praying during these violent and troubling times. And there is, indeed, a biblical basis for that reaction: We are told that when Moses witnessed the Egyptian army assaulting the newly liberated Israelites huddled by the shores of the sea, God told Moses the very same thing: Now is not the time for prayer. Do something! Take action! Lead! Et la’asot: This is the time to act on God’s behalf (Psalm 119).

Obviously, if the victims and God both agree about the need to prioritize action, there must be something to it. We do, indeed, need to act, but that doesn’t mean there is no role for prayer. What if prayer can lead to more resilient action? What if prayer can grace us with moral clarity and with deeper courage? Perhaps prayer can forge a vessel strong enough to hold our sorrow, our rage, and our fear, to provide us with clearer access to renewed vision, hope sufficient enough to overcome society’s inertia and insanity, and to illumine pearls of insight bright enough to lure us to effective engagement. I think prayer can offer all of those benefits. Now is the time to pray and to do.

SO, WHY DO WE PRAY?

I know that not everyone is into prayer, and that’s OK. I know for myself that I’m not always able to slow down, focus and breathe life into moments of contemplation, gratitude or request. So the thoughts that follow aren’t meant to enflame resentment or guilt. They are not intended as a critique of those for whom the path of prayer isn’t accessible (or even wanted). But I do want to open the door to the possibility of the kind of praying that can lead to insight, resolution and action. I want to testify from the heart of our tradition and from the traditions of my heart. I hope that some of these echoes might find their way into your own heart and provide strength for what lies ahead.

Why pray? Sometimes I pray because my feelings are so powerful that they simply burst out of my core and require release. Prayer can be that release. All the longing, confusion, heartache and fear that bubbles up out of some deep ache, a brokenness within that reflects the shattered and brutal brokenness outside. In moments of honest feeling, when defenses fail, the protective scales fall from my eyes and the pain of injustices too long tolerated or of indignities borne sear and circumcise my heart, then all I can do in the first intensity of that pain is to cry out. That crying is prayer. It saps my strength to try to contain the rawness. Releasing it, returning it, offers liberation — reclaiming energy previously bound but now free to offer new courage, direction and determination.

Sometimes I pray because my feelings are so powerful that they simply burst out of my core and require release.

There are times when I will stand during the silent prayers, simply digging deep to find a way to ventilate my heart. Am I feeling vulnerable? I try to respond by feeling myself supported by those who love me, living and dead. Am I feeling enraged or powerless? I let myself tap into our rich tradition of protest and confronting pharaohs, our modern heroes who fought for labor, for human dignity. Their energy and passion channel the Holy One, and I feel them standing behind me, and I am strengthened.

Why pray? Because sometimes life confronts me with challenges so layered and threatening that I can’t find my way. In such moments, prayer can carve out a cistern of possibilities. Prayer can winnow and sift the overwhelming, self-contradictory harvest of what life has thrown at me, an inner process of separating wheat from chaff that enables me to notice the insights and emotions that can guide me to a productive response instead of being buffeted by the distractions of passive helplessness. Prayer can show me the way forward. Often, I emerge from prayer with clarity that had evaded me previously. I know where to stand and what must I must do. That can happen when we slow down, breathe, share our heart’s questions with the world and its Creator, and then patiently hold the space for an answer to emerge.

At home, I have a prayer stand that I use for when I pray alone. I will often clutch the sides of that stand and implore, “I don’t know how to move forward, God. Grant me the discernment to hear your lure, to follow your lead.” I’m often amazed that if I simply stand in stillness, open to receiving, I can access a sudden intuition of how to advance. Prayer keeps the communication open and reminds me to listen with an inner ear.

Why pray? Because sometimes I can’t bear to stand alone in the face of all the suffering, pain or injustice. The pain isolates. But prayer creates a community across time and space. It gives me words, already well-trodden by countless others who have come before me, and shared by so many contemporaries who also seek solace, solidarity and inspiration in their recitation. Prayer, at one and the same time, connects me to my forebears, to my community today, to similar communities around the world, and to the One whose image we are called to reflect and in whose service we thrive. In moments when it feels like I, alone, am life’s victim, as though no one else can suffer as I do, or can feel the pain I feel, prayer lifts me and places me in the context of community, connection, life. Whether I engage in wordless meditation or I allow the hallowed ancient words of the siddur (prayerbook) to flow through my lungs, mouth and soul, when I pray, I am not alone. And in that renewed web of relationship, I find myself again. We are, each of us, who we are in connection to one another.

What if prayer can lead to more resilient action? What if prayer can grace us with moral clarity and with deeper courage?

The words of the prayerbook often are framed in the plural: grant us, forgive us, show us. I love the way our tradition keeps pushing me out of the center of my own focus. No longer a solitary me, I am part of a worldwide, multigenerational us. An identity that is communal is one that repels loneliness and keeps me connected in a network of love and loyalty.

Why pray? Because sometimes I’m so broken that I no longer remember who I am. I can’t find my way back to the surface; I drift in paralyzing randomness, worn down by the rough edges of life, news or hardships. When I pray — alone or in community — I receive the gift of time, to breathe, to recalibrate, to reorient. I accept the gift of space, to stand, to sway, to rock. In prayer, the shattered fragments of my experiences, memories and responses blossom in integration and unification. I become a patterned whole once more, an integrated organism rather than a collection of separate processes at war with one another. And that integration and its possibilities extend  beyond my own becoming to embrace the becomings of those praying with me. We are each of us a society, our thoughts, feelings, memories and characteristics coordinating to produce a real unity. And together in prayer (a minyan, a kehillah, a congregation) we contribute to and are absorbed by a society of societies. In one  another’s integration, we achieve a deeper, higher wholeness. Prayer makes oneness manifest. Prayer reveals the One.

On days when I am so depressed that I can’t remember the sunshine or my own happiness, resting in prayer can give me some joy. Sometimes it can start as quietly as humming a nigun (a wordless song) under my breath, clapping as the spirit starts to move. Other times, a phrase in the siddur will glisten in a way that gets my attention and opens my heart. I remember to be myself, and to enjoy that, in the light of our prayers and in the act of praying.

Contemplative prayer, aided by Scripture, jolts me out of complacency and restores the priority that a Jew is a warrior for justice.

REPLENISH, RESTORE, RECOMMIT

In the end, prayer is not just the outpourings of our depth; the clarity that can emerge like a beam of light, stripping away the illusion of our solitary identity to bask in a swirling sea of connection and belonging; or the capacity to find ourselves whole yet again. It is all of these and more. Just as God is self-surpassing, prayer enables us to tap into those aspects of ourselves that can be self-surpassing, too. Just as our ancient traditions channel the wisdom of thousands of years and distill them into words that can fill our mouths and warm us in the dark, so can our prayers root us and link us and help us to stand. And most gloriously, prayer mobilizes our inferiority to face the outside. What is felt beyond us is really waiting for our touch. What happens to us can offer a more expansive reality if we rise from our prayers with different choices, new clarity and hope.

How often, in a prayerful reading of the haftarah, the prophetic verses chanted on Shabbat, do I come into contact with Israel’s most authentic ancient voice: the voice of justice, the voice that defends the widow and the orphan against the powerful and the greedy? Contemplative prayer, aided by Scripture, jolts me out of complacency and restores the priority that a Jew is a warrior for justice. We have long heard God’s voice in the requirement to love the stranger, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked. Praying with Jews opens my eyes anew to the Jewish mandates for human dignity and for embodied compassion. Those ancient prayer texts force me to get involved.

Prayer or deed? Meditation or action? Why choose? Prayer lets us replenish, restore, recommit. And then we pray with our hands by reaching out to one another. We pray with our feet by marching and resisting and insisting. And we pray with our arms by building the world in which each and every breath is a song; each and every protest, a prayer.


Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson holds the Abner & Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and is vice president of American Jewish University. He is also the founding dean of the Zacharias Frankel College at the University of Potsdam, training Conservative/Masorti rabbis for Europe.

Motherhood, Surgery, Reflection & Faith


I’m having surgery on my neck tomorrow, and look forward to finally feeling better. It has been a long road to get here and even with all the challenges and difficulties I have faced, this is the first time I feel scared and nervous. I kicked cancer’s ass, but screws in my spine is daunting and has thrown me into a place of deep reflection, mostly about my job as a mother.

Motherhood is a remarkable thing. I remember the moment I was told I was pregnant. I made all these promises to myself about the kind of mother I wanted to be. I had so many plans and dreams for my son before he was even born. I wanted to be a mom from the time I was a little girl and always thought I would have a lot of kids. Life can change dreams.

I have one remarkable son who is a truly wonderful human being. Both because of me, and in spite of me. I am proud of him and it has been my greatest honor to watch him grow up and become a good man. He is 22 years old and has a very bright future. He is a smart kid, but I worry he’ll never fully understand how much I love him. Perhaps he won’t get it until he is a dad.

The anticipation of my surgery has me thinking, and no good can come of that. I remember every time I was unkind or impatient. Every mean thing I ever said about his dad. The times he took care of me because I was sick. The times he watched me cry because my heart was broken. The times I couldn’t afford to get him what he wanted. All of it is vivid and feels heavy.

He will drive me to the hospital and be there when I get out of surgery, which makes me feel both grateful and sad. It is my job to take care of him, but over the past few years he has been taking care of me, and that is hard for a parent to come to terms with. I don’t ever want to be a burden on my child. I want him to be free to live his life and follow his dreams.

I want to hold him tight and tell him a million things, but that seems somewhat morbid. I’m not dying, I’m just having surgery. It is a procedure my surgeon has done hundreds of times with great success. There is nothing to worry about, and tomorrow when my neck is repaired and I feel amazing, I will have forgotten about how scared I was and focus on my blessings.

I will check in with you over the weekend when I am home, and appreciate your prayers and good wishes. I asked the hospital if I could have a rabbi come say a prayer with me before the procedure and they were surprised. Apparently they are not allowed to offer a clergy visit because it is an invasion of privacy, which is a shame. I pray and welcome the visit for a prayer.

The hospital said they would make the request. I let them know if a rabbi wasn’t available any member of the clergy, regardless of their religion would do. I just want a person of faith to pray with me. We all pray to the same God and I asked for an act of faith not religion. How different would our world be if people were able to have faith without religious judgement?

If I can get through the day without crying it will be a miracle. I feel emotional and happy, yet at the same time feel sick to my stomach and am unhappy. To be expected, but not at all a comfortable feeling.  I am going to count my blessings, believe everything will be fine, trust my brilliant son knows how much I love him, and hope he knows he is the reason I am keeping the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TGIF


Three years, seven weeks, and five days after I was first told I had cancer, I am cancer free. I feel happy and relieved, but will forever feel nervous every time I don’t feel good, that it is cancer. That said, at the end of the day I am a rock star, and cancer is my bitch. My son came home to celebrate last night, and having him stay the night and sleep in his old room filled my heart with joy. Less than a month after cancer stole a dear friend, I feel blessed and am counting my blessings.

As I waited for test results, while marking the anniversary of the passing of my beloved dad who died from cancer, I thought about my life and my place in the world. I watched the painful news out of Florida and cried as I watched a mother beg for the government to keep our kids safe. It left me with a need to say a few things, about a few things. This may piss people off, and that is okay. God Bless America that I am able to not only have an opinion, but share it freely.

  • The murders in Florida this week must not be blamed on mental illness, but rather blamed on the fact that a teenager can legally buy an AR-15 firearm in America. The President of the United States is a moron and anyone who thinks prayer is the answer to this problem, is mentally deficient. I am a woman of faith and I believe in prayer, but I have had enough. The NRA can shove all the prayers up their asses and fire them into space. We need to get a hold of the guns and stop making senseless murders so easy.
  • Aziz Ansari is a pig, he is not however a sexual deviant who needs to lose his career, just because he was a loser on a date. Dear Lord. The woman “Grace”, who wrote about her date with Mr. Ansari did more harm than good to a movement that is trying so hard to do good. There is a witch hunt mentality happening, which I suppose is to be expected under the circumstances, but as women we have a responsibility to each other to be honest and fair so that appropriate action can be taken against those who deserve it.
  • I have written that the last two men I dated were lovely and it simply did not work out. Here’s the thing though, they were not lovely, I was lovely. They are assholes and I am tired of taking the high road when it comes to my dating life. I am far too nice, and the truth is that I was kind to both of these people, and they were dicks. At the end of the day I am a great girl who is worthy of a great man, and if you voted for Trump or are 53 and never married, you’ve got too many problems for me to take you on.
  • I cried when I read that Amy Schumer got married. I don’t know her, but I like her and respect how she uses the platform fame has given her, so I found myself inexplicably happy for her. She was a beautiful bride and I hope she has a loving and wonderful marriage. I’m not really the fangirl type, except for Celine Dion of course, but there is something about Ms. Schumer that puts me squarely on her side. She makes me laugh and has the gift of bringing light to darkness. Mazel Tov Amy. Thank you for you. #totalfangirl.
  • It turns out that I was correct when I shared with you all long ago that I am the only person who knows how to drive in Los Angeles. I was rear ended this week by a young man with no car insurance. He was texting on his phone and I saw him getting closer, but had nowhere to go so I just waited for the hit. We were not going fast and the damage was only cosmetic, but it pissed me off. I felt bad for the kid for about 30 seconds. He could have cared less about what he did and texted the entire time we were talking. Whatever.

I am very happy it is Friday. I am welcoming in Shabbat with an open heart and a tired mind. It has been a stressful, yet joyous week and I am going to have a couple Cosmos tonight. I know they will be delicious because I’m going to make them myself. I plan to order in Chinese food, put on my fluffiest pajamas, and enjoy the Olympics. I will undoubtedly go back and forth between the excitement of Korea and the news, struggling to make sense of things that will never make sense. I feel stuck. I am unsure what to think or feel when I am so happy, and so sad.

To the families in Florida who are experiencing unimaginable pain, you are on my mind and I send you love. May your loved ones rest in peace, and may you know I will join my voice to yours until somebody listens and gets the guns. I am sorry for your losses. Shabbat Shalom. Be safe out there everyone. We live in a scary place and the only way we will ever survive is if we start to take care of each other. Be kind to one another, use your vote for good, and scream as loud as you can that you want change. Be brave, be hopeful, and remember to keep the faith.

 

 

Miss You Dad


February 13th is the day my father passed away. It is a day of sadness and reflection, but also joyous memories of a man I loved very much. My dad was a wonderful human being and I miss him. He was my go to person for everything, and it is impossible to understand he has been gone for 17 years. I wonder what he would be like if he were alive today, and turning 80 this year.

This is always a strange day. I started with a few tears, lit a candle, said some prayers, and headed to work. On the way in I received an email from a man online. I decided to reply since he wrote on this day, and perhaps my dad had a hand in it. We exchanged numbers and by the end of the afternoon we spoke on the phone. He didn’t seem like a match, but I tried to find common ground.

He is Jewish, divorced, 53, and felt compelled to tell me he does not like blow jobs, so I can date him with the comfort of knowing I don’t have to worry about that. As I listened to this truly tragic man spend five minutes explaining his sexual do and don’ts, and how they would make my life better, I started to laugh. Not a chuckle, but hysterical laughing that made my stomach hurt. Perfect.

My dad totally had a hand in that. I ended the conversation with the man and thanked my dad for the laugh on a sad day. By ended the conversation of course I mean I hung up on him when he got to his thoughts on anal sex. Oy vey. My dad sent a true idiot my way, to make me laugh on a truly sad day. I am now having a Cosmo, sitting on the couch with the cat, thankful for many things.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I will have dinner with the love of my life, my son. We will raise a glass to my dad and hold the memories of him close on a day that shines a light on love. I will look across the table and see my father in the eyes of my son, and count my blessings. Thank you for the laugh today Dad. We all love you and know you are watching over us. You are missed and we are all keeping the faith.

Sadness to Happiness


I have a friend who is feeling sad. They’re not exactly sure why, but there is real sadness. I’m not sure how to help, so all I can do is tell them I love them, and things will be okay. Sadness is tricky because it can easily turn to depression. I embrace sadness when it comes my way, knowing it will pass. That knowledge took me a long time to learn, but I know it will pass, and that gives me the strength to ride it out. My heart is heavy for those who seek the same kind of strength.

I am blessed sadness leads me to gratitude. I imagine it is exhausting when sadness leads you to darkness. I don’t want my friend to be in the dark. I want them to hold onto my hand and allow me to lead them to the light. It may be a long walk, but we will get there. There is nothing wrong with sadness. I have been dealing with sadness since a dear and close friend passed away. I miss her in ways I wasn’t expecting and find exhausting.

When my friend passed away I was sad and lost. I hung onto my son a little tighter and he led me away from sadness. He was my sunshine on a cloudy day, and I hope I can be the sunshine on my friend’s sad day. Life is good and we are blessed. Carl Jung said “The word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” I hope my friend can appreciate the importance of sadness in one’s happiness. They’re going to be fine and this too shall pass. I know it.

I know this person well. I know their family, job, joys, and sorrows. I know they are a wonderful human being and destined for greatness. These are things I know, and while I appreciate sadness plays an important role in our lives, it is not in charge. To my darling friend, I love you. Know it. You are going to be fine. Know it. This too shall pass. Know it. You have been my sunshine, and I will be yours. Know it. It will make it easier to keep the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rest in Peace Cookie


Last week my remarkable friend Alli passed away. She was a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, Hollywood superstar, and wonderful human being. I loved her very much and haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of how much I am going to miss her. We knew each other for almost a decade and there is no aspect of my life she did not touch and make better. She was an inspiration to all who were blessed to know her.

Alli taught me patience. She bided her time and waited things to be as she wanted, rather than accept something that was less than she deserved. She taught me forgiveness. She forgave me for things I may not have been able to forgive her for, because she knew it would bring peace. She taught me self-kindness. She would not allow me to punish myself when things out of my control went wrong.

She was an entertainment powerhouse who left her mark on Hollywood. Every person reading this blog loved at least one of her movies. From American Pie to The Bourne Identity, The Hunger Games to Cinderella, Rogue One and the upcoming Han Solo, Alli loved the movies and it was an absolute privilege to have a front row seat to watch her work her magic. She was a truly brilliant producer.

Allison Shearmur was a lot of different things to me. She was my boss, friend, confidant, therapist, life coach, mentor, sister, mother, and sparring partner. We laughed and cried, got along and butted heads. She was my go-to person for absolutely everything. She knew every single thing about me. We kept each other’s secrets and never judged our choices. She was my family.

I worked for Alli for many years, and when I decided to move on to a new job, she said she would not accept my letter of resignation because there was a typo in it, and so it did not count. When I told her I was looking for a husband, she told not to find a husband, but to find an Ed, who was her beloved. When I questioned myself as a mother, she assured me I was doing great and my son proved that daily.

She taught me the importance of spending money on good bedding and pillows. She made me buy something just for me once a month. She valued honesty, kindness, and faith. We shared a Jewish worldview and spent the high holidays together. She respected and encouraged the role Judaism played in my life, and we often talked about our religion. We spoke of wanting to pass our faith onto our children in ways that would inspire them to embrace it.

Alli loved her children, husband, family, home, and career. Allison Shearmur also loved me, which makes me a very lucky girl. I will spend the rest of my life looking forward to seeing her again. I will talk to her often and have her in my prayers always. Our last words to each other were I love you, and she will continue to guide me. I love you Alli, and until we see each other again, I will be keeping the faith.

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