We Use The “C” Word in My House

“Did you hear about Maggie?” a woman asks me one night at dinner. “No. What happened to Maggie?” I respond, concerned. “Well…. you know…” “No. I don’t know.” “Ummmmm…….. well……. she has CxdvApgluNsdkCdklebkler,” she whispers. “Huh! She has what?” I’m not sure if I didn’t hear her, or if she is just mumbling.   I look around the room and everyone is silent, waiting for her to repeat herself. Apparently, I am not the only one who didn’t understand. I look at everyone’s expressionless faces. Aren’t they the least bit curious about what has happened to Maggie? And, I really don’t understand this conversation. This woman brought up the topic, why won’t she just tell me what the hell is wrong with Maggie? Does she think if she says it out loud it will become contagious? I tell her I’m sorry but I did not hear her. Could she please repeat herself? She looks around the room, as if to make sure no one is watching. She leans forward and says, “She has C-A-N-C-E-R.” I look at my kids who are sitting next to me. At ages 14, 12 and 8 I am pretty sure they can all read. So I am not sure why she spelled it out. “Oh, well why didn’t you just say so?” I respond, as no one else in the room dares to speak.     What is it about the C-word that makes it so difficult for people to say out loud? I understand the fear and negative emotions associated with the C-word, but if we as adults can’t say the word, how...

Don’t Tell My Child he Can’t, Part II

I can’t believe I almost let someone tell my child that he can’t. Without knowing if my child was able to or not, she wanted to halt his desire to try something new. What if I had allowed her to make that decision for me? What if I had allowed her thoughts to dictate what my child can and cannot do? Had I allowed her that right, my son would be missing a part of him that has come to define his spirituality and passion for tradition. At the age of 9, my son took it upon himself to learn an ancient instrument that has never been played in our home. With much practice and determination, he perfected the sounds that come from this magical and mystical instrument. He went on to play this instrument in front of 100’s of students and parents every holiday season. As he closed his eyes and played, I felt him take on the prayers of those around him and send them to the heavens. I often found myself moved to tears as I watched him embrace this tradition. This year, my son had a new opportunity. As the holidays approached, our thoughts were with a young friend who was unable to leave the house. In wanting to bring this blessing to her and her family, we offered to play for her in her home. We soon realized how many people are unable to hear this holy instrument during the holidays. We knew we needed to make ourselves available to them as well. And so we traveled around town, answering requests for a private...