December 24, 2004
As most regular readers of this site may be aware, 2004 was, without a doubt, the worst year of my life.
It started last January when my beloved grandmother, on my father’s side, who had basically raised me while my parents worked, passed away. She was the ultimate matriarch, strong and kind. She had seen it all, been through wars and dictatorships, divorced her loser husband when that kind of thing wasn’t done, survived being a Jew in the 1900’s in the Soviet Union. Even writing about this now, I feel like a spoiled child that this was my worst year ever. Her brothers and brother-in-law died fighting Hitler. Her father died in Stalin’s gulag. She’s had to leave her home and run for her life. She was just amazing. She loved my brother and me with an incredible dedication. When I think about a future family, I hope I can be as loving and warm as she was. I was lucky to have her as long as I did. I was working in DC last January and came back to NY for a weekend. She had been in the hospital and I went to see her, sat by her bed, hugged and kissed her while she slept. She died the next morning. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard.
About a month and a half after she died, I started experiencing pain in my leg. It turned out I had a herniated disk and needed an operation. I spent a week in the hospital and another month after that being shuttled (by my fabulous brother and mother) to school and back home again. I had to eat laying down and could hardly walk at all so I gained something like 25 pounds, which I have yet to lose.
A few days after I got out of the hospital, my best friend’s mother died. Laurie and I lived across the street from each other, and have been friends for about 15 years. The day my grandmother died, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given three to six months to live. She was gone within two. My mother and her mother had been good friends. It was a huge tragedy. I couldn’t stop crying all through the service and during the shiva sitting. I was almost surprised at how hard I took it, I was feeling Laurie’s pain so accutely. I don’t remember ever having a sensation like it before.
I had decided to switch fields (I used to be a pharmaceutical paralegal) go back to school and get my Master’s degree in politics, a field I literally could not resist. This made me the poorest I have ever been. I was used to making good money in a stable field. I found myself in an erratic field making a third, if that, of what I used to make. I have near zero financial support from my family. It’s a field I love and I’m trying not to think about the money part. Still, I’ve had to worry about money in a way I never had before. My readers have been incredible, giving me donations whenever I’ve asked, sometimes without me asking at all. While I was in Colorado, and literally saving half my lunch sandwich for dinner and stressing out, reader Jake hit my tip jar and fed me for two weeks. Yes, it got that bad (and I’m still waiting to be paid for my work there). I have a promising job now and hope 2005 will be better on that front.
My maternal grandmother died in June. I was less close to her, because she lived in Russia my entire life, though she did visit us every few years. She was a good woman and I’m afraid I wasn’t always as kind and welcoming to her as I should’ve been. It was another blow in a terrible year.
Ronald Reagan died several days later. Is it hokey that I include him on this list? It’s hard for me to convey what he meant to me and my family while I was growing up. My brother is named after him and he was such a hero to us. He looked at this awful, evil place where I was born and called it what it was. He brought the Soviet Union to its knees and I will always be grateful. I know he was lost to us some time ago, but his death was still very hard to deal with.
It wasn’t all bad. I was happy that President Bush won re-election, that I had the best friends anyone can ask for, that I loved my blog and my readers, that Peter remained a calming, happy influence in my life, that my mom and my brother are so good to me, that there were no terrorists attacks on US soil, that I got to spend a good length of time in Georgia and Colorado and that I remain alive in the greatest country in history.
It’s been a tough year for me, nevertheless, and I can’t wait for it to be over. People that have met me know that I’m generally very happy. I know that no matter how sad my year was, it could be so much worse. I’m looking forward to 2005 and living through it with all of you. Happy Christmas.