Happy Tu B’Shevat!

Today is Tu B’Shevat, which is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the New Year for Trees. Jewish culture dictates that you’re not to eat fruit from a tree that is less than five years old. So, today was created to celebrate another year of life for our dear friend, the tree. I suppose today could be seen as a Bat Mitzvah of sorts for the world of Dendrology, as long as the subject that is celebrating has achieved at least five years of growth.

I really don’t have much more to say about that. See, I’m still waiting to celebrate my own Bat Mitzvah. I’ve been waiting a long time to become a woman. Had I been born a Jew, I could have celebrated this milestone when I turned 13. However, being a Protestant of sorts, there is no age requirement – or limit – on when one becomes an adult. So, I’m still waiting. In fact, the only “growth” I’ve experienced recently is the hair on my legs. THAT forest, my friends, is VERY mature. In fact, if you fell one of my leg hairs, the rings will dictate that they’ve been around since the birth of Jesus. I have no plans to cut down Sarah National Forest. At least not until summer. I guess I’ll use today to celebrate my leg hair since, unfortunately, I’m not a Jew.

This week is also International Friendship Week. I do have some International friends. One of my dear friends is currently sailing around the world with her husband. She’s American, but she’s currently International. That counts, right? My college roommate recently moved back to the States from Singapore so I guess I can’t count her any longer. Hmmm. Who else do I know Internationally? My friend, Wendy, is moving to Alaska. That’s pretty close to Russia, which counts according to Sarah Palin, right? Never mind. I guess I’m not as worldly as I thought. I know God, though. That’s International! Heck, that’s Intergalactical. So, I suppose I’m “other-worldly.” How very “X-Files” of me (YES, James. That was just for you. The truth is out there. Your tapes, however, are probably not.)

Actually, I just watched a movie called “Letters to God.” It’s about an eight-year-old boy who has cancer. I usually steer away from these movies because they are very rarely accurate. I like a good fantasy picture now and then but since I’ve lived this experience I can be very cynical when it comes to depicting this particular topic. “Dragonfly”, for example, was a piece of garbage. Another Lifetime movie had a little girl who needed a bone marrow transplant for her cancer therapy. Her dead-beat dad abducted her because he wanted a ransom for her AND his stem-cells that would save her life. She would occasionally cough and say “I have the cancer.” It was ridiculous. I usually get disgusted and bitch about how inaccurate the portrayals are, yet still watch them through to completion. I guess I ultimately like to complain. Anyway, this “Letters to God” movie was VERY realistic. The little boy was without hair. Check. He even lost his eyebrows. Check. His brother was mad at the boy for being sick and felt like he wasn’t as loved as his brother. Check. The mother was struggling with her relationship with God and how could He possibly be doing this to her son. Check. And all of his school friends rallied around him, yet one classmate made fun of the boy for having cancer. Check. It was extremely realistic. The family even went to Give Kids The World for a Make-a-Wish trip. We did that. It brought back a flood of memories. Anyway, the little boy maintains his faith in the Big Guy Upstairs and even writes Him letters talking about his thoughts and feelings and fears. The mailman, who is going through tremendous personal crises of his own, doesn’t know what to do with the letters and ends up reading them. He eventually becomes very close with the family and his relationship with the boy transforms his life.

I bawled my eyes out. Trust me, I wanted to be cynical. I wanted to say “that’s not how you do it.” I wanted to throw it out as an unbelievable piece of garbage that has nothing to do with the world of pediatric oncology. But it does. It was beautifully – and accurately – portrayed. I highly recommend the movie, even if you don’t believe in God.

I used to keep a journal that was dedicated to my writings to God. I recently re-read them and was fascinated to find that my struggles then are very close to my struggles now. The situations may have changed but the feelings have remained the same. I came to realize that this life is just a long dress rehearsal for a story that is never going  to be aired. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I don’t know why I’m just not getting on with it already. The situations will change. Sometimes they will be better.
Sometimes they will be worse. And as Andy Dufresne said in the “Shawshank Redemption”, you gotta “get busy living or get busy dying.”  I’m choosing the former even though I sometimes feel like doing the latter.

Life is hard. Right now it’s really flipping hard. But I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all, (as stated by Margaret Mitchell’s character Scarlett O’Hara) tomorrow is another day. In the meantime, I’m going to go inventory my leg hair. And maybe write a letter to God.


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