Lent.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about giving things up for Lent, which is, y’know, weird. Because of the whole being Jewish thing. But still, this week feels like a good week to reevaluate my life and make some changes and it just so happens to coincide with a time that lots of Christians are doing the same thing. The reality is, of course, that I’m taking stock of what I have, what I need, what I want, and how to get it. Because of my grandmother.

I think I mentioned last week that my grandmother passed away and we all packed up and moved operations to Boston for five days in order to attend the funeral and the days of shiva that followed. The trip was uneventful in all the ways in which traveling with a toddler could potentially be eventful. Bungee-cording the car seat to the stroller was a genius idea (thanks, Nicole!) and we breezed through the short flights to and fro with little more than a scant moment of whining when Elmo got turned off for a failure to keep hands off the laptop. Naps were taken wherever the pack-n-play was set up and, for the most part, we all slept through the nights. And The Who, despite his previous terror when faced with bearded men, even found himself cuddling into my dad’s lap of his own free will. It was kind of miraculous.

I, along with my cousin and father, eulogized my grandmother at the funeral and the picture painted of her from the amalgamation of our words has profoundly affected me. I want to be like she was. Not necessarily to honor her (although if that’s what it does, then I am glad for that) but because I don’t want to get to be 94 (should I be so lucky) and look back on my life, wishing I had been nicer to people. Wishing I had been more genuine with myself. Wishing I had been less judgmental, less angry, less short-tempered, less forgiving. I don’t even want to get to be 37 (which is what I will be next month) and look back and wish those things. I want to honor myself and honor the people I love by being real. And tolerant. And loving. I want to take a page out of my grandmother’s book and live by it.

Over the course of the last five days, I have realized that I can choose to incorporate the wisdom my grandmother has imparted or I can choose not to. I can choose to accept people just as they are or I can choose to be petty and unforgiving and angry. I can choose to love the things about myself that are wonderful or focus on the things about myself that might not be.

I have, especially recently, felt imprisoned by circumstance. But it became clear to me as we celebrated my grandmother’s extraordinary life, that I am imprisoned by myself. And so that’s what I’m giving up for Lent. And beyond.

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