After 4.5 years of working in the nursing home, I said goodbye. It was one of the most bitter sweet moments. The residents were more upset than I thought they would be. I work with people with dementia and other age related issues. They are people who need help with all or most of their daily living activities, and many times it is because they are not always aware of what is going on around them.
Somehow they were aware of me. When I said that I was leaving they were sad and in shock. Those who I didn’t think paid any attention to what I was doing, told me that they are sad that I am going, and that I shouldn’t. The children and spouses of the residents all told me how great I did, and how much they and their loved one appreciated what I did. I heard how influential my crazy ideas were, and how much they have seen a change in the space.
What was even more surprising wasn’t the residents that I worked with, but rather those from independent living who I only saw in the lobby. They did not take it well that I was going- and I didn’t even work with them. I saw them on my way out and smiled and said hello. One man, I saw every morning on my way into work, and he constantly told me “to see your smile, it is worth everything”- and wanted to make sure that I would never lose that.
At the same time everyone was happy for me. They know that I have been studying for 4 years to become a rabbi, and that I am leaving so I can finish my last year- finally. They have been with me all the way. They excitedly tell their family members what I do. They hear about when I speak at conferences, or go to conferences, or there is an article written about me. I truly feel like they are all grandparents to me, and shep nachas the same way that my biological grandparents do.
My second to last day was the ball- a party that I started four years ago, that when we started everyone was convinced it would fail, but it has been a highlight each year. This year was no exception, if anything it was even greater. The band that played was great. The residents danced with me. Family members came. There was just so much positive energy- it was exactly how I would want my going-away party to be. The residents and staff wrote a book of messages to me- the most beautiful was seeing those notes that the residents wrote themselves.
I know that I am not always the greatest at receiving compliments, but it was really nice to hear how much I meant- both to the staff and to the residents. I hope that I will have a chance to visit, and that some of the people that I grew to love are still going to be there, although I know and understand that them not being there is part of life. They are people who I great to love; who taught me; who shared with me; who I shared with; and I will miss them being part of my life. I also hope that I will one day have another job that is as meaningful.
As soon as I finished work, it was two days till Pesach. This too was bitter sweet. There was the stress of getting ready; preparing for an interesting seder; but knowing that it might be my last one in Israel for a while, and that I need to start packing.
The cleaning went much quicker than I feel it does normally. At certain points I felt stressed because I didn’t feel stressed (I know- I’m crazy). But everything got finished. I even had sushi with shuk boy, as I have for 4 out of 5 of the past years.
I went to the Rosh Yeshiva for seder again, and as usual I went to help pre-seder, where I help make the charoset. There is something special about the family, coming together and I personally enjoy helping out with the preparations, it makes me feel like I am more part of something than if I was just a guest.
Walking home that night, once again I felt a weird energy in the air. I feel this every year when walking around the night before pesach. There is something more awake. Stores and restaurants that are normally closed are open, and full of people. Lights are still on. The streets are still quiet, but people are not asleep. I don’t know what it is, but there is change in the air.
Seder was nice as usual. We finished again at 5:45am. For the first time, I felt like I was too old for it. It was nice, and there were many nice aspects- but I also don’t think I would want to do it again. There are aspects that I hopefully will take from it and bring it to my own seders in the future.
I’m still seeing this guy- which is so surprising to me. I really enjoy spending time with him, and it actually makes me sad to think of breaking it off. I haven’t told shuk boy or most of my friends yet- but slowly it is coming out. It is funny how different it feels from any other guy… For now I am just trying to enjoy while I can, especially as I only have 3.5 weeks left.
So here is to the next 3.5 weeks. I hope that it is full of happiness and love. It doesn’t become to stressful. That I am able to say goodbye to those who are important to me, and other to be able to say goodbye to me. I hope that this is the right move, and from this good things will happen.