It’s New Year’s Eve. Not the ball-dropping kind. A hush descends and you start stock-taking in such a different way than what is needed in the fridge and what the kids need for school tomorrow.
This morning began meditatively. Which is to say, the Lice Lady paid a house call, at my parents’ house, because the kids were sent home early from school with lice on Friday. At the moment when I was called to pick them up, having just come from a two and a half hour eye doctor appointment where my other eye was diagnosed with iritis, I was hoping to catch a nap before picking them up. I never managed. I may have thought about Job as angry tears sprang to my eyes on the two block walk to school, my bad eye stinging even more.
We freaked out, even though my parents were kind enough to let us come down for our Rosh Hashanah visit, braving the risk of an infestation (as of this morning, no adults here have lice and the kids are much better). We seized and bagged up the very beloved stuffed animals, the couch cushions, basically, overreacting and doing what you’d do if you had (GOD FORBID PLEASE NEVER EVER EVER) bedbugs. As we were reminded repeatedly this morning, head lice can’t live off of heads. Young A has been deprived of his stuffed kitty and Young J of his giant teddy bear, for no good reason.
Armed with a professional grade lice comb, which makes the task of search and destroy much easier, the Lice Lady relaxed us all while she combed through our hair and told us about all the ways people go overboard about head lice.
The kids quite enjoyed themselves, it felt like a scalp massage to them. Which is good, because we’ll be doing these combouts daily for two weeks, after which we’ll need to do a weekly preventative combing. None of it seems daunting anymore. I’m so relieved. We’ve got this. Not just J, who was the first to actually deal with the problem (and thus the first to comb live, wriggling nymphs from the kids’ heads). We will get over this. We both can do it now.
We had dinner at my brother G’s house tonight. The kids always adore visits there, which offer so much freedom (to play with their cousins, far out of our sight). We shared the Rosh Hashanah cards they’d made at school, Young A’s full of love and a drawing he refused to describe when asked. Young J said he copied the message from his classroom whiteboard (it was written all in Hebrew). That may well be, but it seemed eerily accurate that he wished us a new year of happiness “and lots of good health.” I had made a pinky promise with Mom not to start bawling during certain prayers. We managed to keep it together, I am proud to say.
On the way to G’s house, I had trouble unraveling a knot in the Star of David necklace I had been planning to wear. I had to carefully pluck at the knot to avoid breaking the gold chain, which I’ve had since I was a little girl. I was trying hard not to see a parallel between this minor struggle and my very conflicted feelings about God and religion these days. I eventually triumphed over the necklace. The other thing, jury still out.
On the way home, we somehow wound up in a discussion with the very sleepy kids about what your “soul” means. Young A wanted to know. Which meant I had to find a way to explain it in five-year-old terminology. I came up on the fly with, “Your soul is the part of you that makes you feel like you, but is also something you can’t see or touch.”
Ironic that the thing I’m struggling the most with these days, cancer, also fits this description of the soul. Yes, cancer can be seen – but often, only by experts. Unlike cancer though, I don’t think they can remove your soul. At least not yet, and not without your consent.
I’m falling asleep in my chair. Time to get some decent sleep.