Sunday, November 18, 2012

Living with my Mortality

It is a sad fact that death is a major part of life.The chances are that the longer you live, the more encounters with death you will experience. While ideally most of the people that a person will know that die will be old and have lived full lives, this is not always the case. The early death of young people was a topic of conversation in my life from a very young age. My father's brother, my Uncle Natan was killed in a car accident shortly after my birth. In fact my sister Natanya was named for our uncle. Growing up, we were both told many stories about what a wonderful and amazing person Uncle Natan was and how much everyone loved him. I remember asking my mom once when I was little if Uncle Natan was so wonderful and was not old, how come he died. I was told that god had taken him "because he was too good for this earth."

My next experience with someone dying "before their time" was sadly a childhood friend. When I was about 13 or 14 years old, I had a friend from the neighborhood who was 12 years old who died from cancer. Our families were close friends and I had known him for most of my young life. He was the nicest kid and everyone loved him. I remember when I was told that he had died once again being confused. How was it that such a good and young person could die? But then I remembered the explanation my mother had given me about my uncle's death and it seemed to make sense for my friend's death as well.

The next time death of a young person became part of my life was when I was around 15 years old. In this case, it is not an actual death, but rather the threat of death. As I have written about in previous posts that after a rabbi taught me that gay people deserve to die, I began to expect my own death all of the time. Whether in a plane going through turbulence, or in a car making a sharp turn, I would often think to myself, "this is when god is going to kill me." The thought of my early death became a regular part of my daily life.

The death of young people returned to my life in the summer of 2006 while I was serving in the Israeli Army during the war in Lebanon. While I knew 11 people that were killed in the war, there were 3 that I knew very well. The first was my friend Kobi who was 20 years old. We had completed basic training together. He was killed when his tank went up on a landmine. Next my friend Michael Levine who was a grade younger than me in our elementary school and we completed the Army's course for new immigrants together. Last was another friend named Ami that was in basic training with me. He was 22, newly married and expecting his first child when an anti-tank missile hit his tank and killed him. At this point in my life, I stopped asking for reasons and just accepted that we live every day under the treat of death.

And of course most recently I have suffered through the death of my parents, who were killed in a car accident. My parents were 51 years old, an age that may have once seemed old to me when I was a kid, but I now realize how young my parents were. I was also badly hurt in that accident and am still working on my recovery 2 months later. It is not lost on me, how close I came to being killed as well.

All of these experiences have lead me to have a very strong awareness of my mortality. I know that life can end at any moment. I also know that as things are right now in my life, I am not happy. The idea that I could die before ever having found my happiness is very scary and it motivates me to go out and find my happiness. I know the last time I felt truly happy was when I was in Vietnam. It is an amazing environment and culture that suits me well. I have met the most amazing friends there and even had some dating success during my short time there. I am sure that for these reasons, along with many other reasons, his is a step in the right direction for me. However, there are a growing number of obstacles that are delaying my departure and this causes me to worry.

What if something were to happen to me? I am terrified that the longer I delay my plan, the greater the chances I myself could die before having a chance to go. While I know this is not the right way to see life, after all that has happened, who can blame me for me for being so aware of my mortality? But the truth is that no one knows when their time will come. The chances of me dying are no greater than anyone else dying. I just have to keep searching for my happiness and hope for the best. And frankly, I am sick and tired of death and I am looking forward to being able to focus on life.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

People Say the Dumbest Things

After the tragedy of my parents being killed, many people that knew them over the years came to express their condolences to me, as well as to visit me in the hospital. It is truly remarkable how hurtful, callus, and tackless people can be in spite of their good intentions.  I will not repeat any names or how the people who's comments will be repeated here are connected to my family. My intent is not to embarrass or hurt anyone. However, I do hope that after reading this, people might think twice before they open their mouths to talk to people that are grieving and/or hurt. And of course, I am writing this to vent my hurt and frustration.

I will start with the most ridiculus thing said to me. This person came to visit me in the rehab center where I am recovering from my injuries. They looked at me and said "at least we now have two strong advocates for Romney's victory in heaven". I don't know why this person thought this would be helpful for me to hear, or why they think dead people help change the results of elections. This person was also so close minded that they never thought I might have different political beliefs them their own. Frankly, I found the comment to be belittling of my loss and down right stupid.

Of course their were the tens of people that told me that "god" simply wanted my parents closer to "him". These are the same people that would tell me "god" is everywhere. But even if "god" does have a home in the sky where he hangs out with dead people, I would say "he" is a selfish, cruel "god" that could have waited patiently another 50-80 years before putting my family through this pain. And isn't "god" beyond time? This sort of comment might help a young child, but I find it hurtful and condescending.

I was told by one person that that a slight high point is that I would not have to "deal with my parents aging and will always remember them young and strong". I understand what this person was trying to say, especially now being in a rehab center surrounded by seniors with dementia. However, I would gladly deal with my parents aging and still have them here with me. This was not comforting in the least.

One person heard all that happened and looked at me and said, "with all this bad happening around you, you should probably be praying more". This small minded, cruel individual was of course implying that had I been sucking up to "god" more, then he wouldn't have hit us with a car. What a loving "god" to worship. This also implies that it was somehow my fault that this happened. Obviously this is not helpful or comforting. It is cruel, evil and self righteous.

Another person actually had the nerve to basically ask for a donation for a memorial plaque for my parents. Of course they asked while I was lying in bed at the rehab center, left leg and arm in splints and on bed rest because of complications. This person could not think about anyone other themselvesand money.  I'm sure I don't have to explain why this was the wrong thing for this person to do.

There were people that in one sentence tried to tell me that it was "god's" plan to kill my parents and that the only way I could get through this trauma was by returning to "god" and embracing "him". So "god" killed my parents AND will help me deal with my emotional loss? Isn't that called Stockholm Syndrome? There was another person that told me "god" killed my parents as a test to me, to see how I would handle it. This is kind of like how the mafia does things, no? They will kill someone close to you so that you stay loyal to them. Or maybe you will go to to the police? So "god" is a super human mafioso I guess. Sometimes it is obvious people do not think before talking.

Another person went to the shiva (a Jewish wake) and approached my maternal grandparents and asked who they were. My grandfather explained that they are Sari's parents. To which this person responded, "who is that?"  Needless to say my grandparents were mortified. If you do not know the deceased or their family, don't go to console them! It's an empty gesture that is only making you feel better and can be hurtful to the family if you are a tactless moron like this person.

Speaking of  self serving, empty gestures. One day some rabbi came to my hospital room with three little children. I looked up from the bed at four smiling faces that I did not know. I asked, "did you know my parents?" The father answered me with a huge happy grin on his face, "no, but we heard about the accident and we came to do the mitzvah (good deed) of visiting the sick." I felt like saying
that I was so glad that I was hit by a car so they could get their newest merit badge. These were people that were just going through the motions because that was what they were taught to do, not because it is the right thing to do or because they want to help.

I know that none off these people were trying to be hurtful, but they all were. I understand that sometimes people don't know what to say. So don't say anything! And DO NOT ever try and take advantage of someone's loss by trying to get money, or to push your religious agenda. This is called being selfish and emotionally abusive.

The first time I ever went into a house of mourning, my father told me not to say anything, unless someone speaks to me first. This was a great lesson. It lets those grieving have the choice of who to speak to and stops people from feeling the need to have something to say even if they can only come up with half thoughts like those mentioned above. I do really appreciate the good intentions of most of the people who said these things, however, I just wish they had thought before saying such hurtful things.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I cannot believe that I still am in the rehab center. The accident that killed my parents and left me and two friends badly injured was SEVEN WEEKS AGO today. After eight days in the hospital, tomorrow will mark six weeks in this rehab center and I still have not walked yet. I'm sure it goes without saying that the situation is very frustrating. However it's not all bad. The experiences of this long recovery can be divided into three categories: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good
The number one  experience is all the wonderful friends and family that are constantly visiting me and supporting me. It is so great having them around and because I'm normally in Israel. I a, getting to spend a lot of time with people that I rarely see,  but that I care very much about.

Another good experience is that I have joined the Twitterverse and I'm doing pretty well there. I use to say that I don't understand why anyone uses Twitter, but now I get it. You can follow me @Amiad_horowitz

Lastly I have had the time to learn great songs from my now favorite Korean band Big Bang. Yea, thats right. I have been listening to Korean music since before it was trendy and Gangnam Style. Anyways, check them out. They are a lot of fun.

Talented and beautiful! 

The Bad
I am so frustrated!!!!! While I am making progress on my elbow (it now can bend to about 105 degrees!), I still cannot put any weight on my leg. That means its now been seven weeks since I last walked. Ahhhhhh!!! I spend pretty much all day in bed or Ina wheel chair, except during 2 hours of therapy. And I haven't seen the outside world in a month and a half, except for one doctors appointment that was so painful that I fainted. So it wasn't a fun outing.

The next bad experience has been super mega hurricane Sandy. This whole town is still without power and the rehab center is running on emergency generators. Also, the power was lost at the surgeon's office, forcing me to miss my follow up with him, further delaying my return to walking.

The last bad experience is the twice daily injections of blood thinners. Over 6 weeks, I'm starting to feel like a pin cushion. Actually the needle isn't so bad. The medicine itself gives some people a burning sensation. And guess what? I am one of those lucky people.

Oh not again

The Ugly

Well the ugly is directly related to the bad. Since I spend so much time not moving in bed or Ina wheel chair and I still have to eat, the ugly would be myself. And I wasn't exactly in shape before the accident. I haven't gained so much, but still, I'm getting very frustrated. Am I suppose to starve myself? And the doctors tell me that eating calories is an important part of all my injuries and wounds healing.

On top of that a few times a week, a nurse comes to my room and says they to weigh me. really?! I can't deal with knowing how much I gained on top of everything else I'm dealing with, so I always refuse. When I get out of here, it will be time for  a serious diet and when I can, serious exercising. If not, I'll probably be doomed to being single forever. I DO NOT want that.

All in all, the good, namely the support of friends and family outweighs the bad and the ugly. But I am defiantly getting frustrated with this situation. I hope it ends soon.