When we knew that the cancer was back, confirmed in December, discussions about my very unHebrew name were rehashed. Once again, close friends and family members, unconnected to each other, questioned whether I should change my name. I began to question it. My dear friend, E.'s husband met with a great rabbi who said I should change my name, to a specific Biblical name, which I just didn't connect with. "We'll speak with another great Rav, " my friend assured me. There was one name that I'd always been excited about and had wanted to name one of our daughters. "No way we are going to give any of our kids a Hippie name," said my darling husband. My 2nd PET CT scan was on Sunday and a few hours later, the tip of the iceberg crashed through the calm of my seemingly healthy and less stormy reality. It's a true kindness that I don't have to wait for days to know whether the results are positive or negative. My oncologist tries to minimize my anxiety and emotional torture whenever possible. I went home with some bad news and knew I'd get more detailed answers in two days, when the official radiologist report came through. One thing was certain, the cancer proved to be spreading quicker than we hoped and if I don't begin treatment, my future on this Earth is unlikely. We received an answer directly from an extremely well respected and learned Torah Giant that I should choose a new name that my soul connects with.
When we met again with my oncologist, we learned to what extent the cancer had advanced. Throughout my abdomen and pelvis, in my liver and chest wall and in multiple lymph nodes far and wide. What's on offer? Chemotherapy. Carboplatin and Gemcitabine. No way!!! I made up my mind. No chemotherapy yet! I want to wait for my mice... I don't want to be the mouse! Chemo failed last year and I don't want to go through that again!
Love and faith... are all I have. If I decide not to take chemotherapy, I might die. Chemotherapy might not work either or it could work and I might live. It's my choice and yet I have no control of the outcome. ONLY how I choose to deal with it today. Will I cry? Be angry? Will I still be happy? Laugh? Celebrate? Dance? That's what my #happylanche is all about. Will I continue to cling to Hashem (G-d) and have faith at ALL times?
My sister in law, Briana, invited me to attend a shiur (a class) in Nachlaot, Jerusalem. A very spiritual class with Rebitzin Emunah Witt and I had my own unique experience. All the months of debating over my name suddenly converged on an impulsive decision as I meditated, with Briana's hand in mine, on love and faith and faith and G-d and love, achdut (unity) and a whole lot of faith through the worst test of my life. We are all Earthbound but we hope to get to Heaven someday. Whether I'm 38 or 120 when I go, what do I want to leave behind?
|photo credit: Nechama Verter sent AFTER I changed my name!|
Ahava = Love
Emunah = Faith
We took a long and spiritually guided journey to the Kotel (Western Wall) and on the way MANY wonderful things happened.
I washed the great stones of the Kotel with my tears - crying and begging G-d to please help me.
And then, I left Erika behind.
I want to be known as, and called, Ahava Emunah. Whether I go or I stay, that's what I want to be and emulate, and share. AND now, I have a new strength to face the next step. Chemotherapy AGAIN.... and spread love, and have faith that no matter what, it's all for the good. It will be okay.