My cat died two days ago. It seems like such a silly thing, but I am grieving hard right now. I think I’m taking it harder than the kids are taking his death.

See, this Is the first pet I’ve  know from the beginning to the end. And even then, my in-laws had him for five of those years, which is one of only three regrets I have in my life. I didn’t know  my in-laws well at the time, but I know now that they neglect animals. And five years of neglect ended with him having sever cauliflower ears in both ears. As soon as I discovered it I immediately took him back and started to care for his health. He was in bad shape and the veterinarian told me he probably didn’t have long to live. It wasn’t just his ears, the poor cat didn’t even bother to get up to go to the bathroom. His health was failing horribly. Luckily we nursed him back to health. That was back in 2013. He has lived a good life since then.

In the beginning of 2015 he was diagnosed with oral cancer and the veterinarian told me he likely had only two years left to live if we were lucky. In all likelihood we were living on borrowed time these last few months or so. The last couple of days were hard to watch as his health declined rapidly. He was such a trooper up until the very very end. He has had some breathing trouble over the last couple of months. He had fluid on his organs and there wasn’t much we could do about it. We knew the end was near. I watched for subtle changes in him, waiting to know that it was time to euthanize him and he was scheduled to be euthanized last night, but he didn’t make it that long.

Monday night my husband text me and told me he was coming home from his training a day early. I was so relieved because that meant he would get to see our cat one last time. I wasn’t sure whether or not the cat would live long enough to see J. Unfortunately the cat died moments before J walk through the door. Instead he was greeted with the sobs of our daughters.

Growing up in the military I never knew the death of a pet, other than maybe a goldfish. We just found a new home for pets and we left. I never had to bury a pet.

I know it’s just a cat, but it’s not just a cat. Bubba was a wedding gift from my husband. Bubba was born on my grandmother’s birthday. Bubba was the cat that we got because we wanted children but the timing wasn’t right yet. I know he’s just a cat but he was so much more.


Completely deflated

Forewarning, this is going to be a raw one…

I am at this point in my life where I just feel totally and utterly deflated. I have been trying to move back to Colorado for three months now… going on four. I need to be with my husband again. It’s been a long four years. And we have both faught many battles. I left in 2013 and took the girls because his PTSD had gotten so bad we were no longer safe together. But I was still fighting for us. I think he was too, somewhere deep down. But ultimately he was still fighting a war within himself from the war he lived through.

I moved in with his parents, but that was just a different kind of toxic. I can’t say I regret it. I understand my husband better having gotten to know the toxic family that he grew up with. So I am thankful for the experience. 

A year later he went to Korea, where he spent two years. He got stationed back in Colorado at a different base and asked me to rejoin him in March of 2016. But after 2 months we realized it was just bad timing. He still hadn’t dealt with his PTSD. I had continued to get increasingly sicker in the previous three years. He didn’t know how to interact with the girls. And to top it all off, we had a psychotic neighbor who was threatening the Kids and I, as well as pushing Jordan’s buttons looking for an altercation. It was just a bad situation. 

We found ourselves in marriage counseling again. This time it was wise counsel. However the burdens and struggles were too much, and I ran away for the summer. 

I found myself back in Indiana with my in-laws, but they were mostly gone on vacation. I submerged myself back into my Jewish community. I felt like I had found home. I didnt know what I had when I lost it and moved to Colorado, but once I found it again, I felt I knew what it was, and like I needed to hold onto it and never let go again.

I went back to Colorado, and Jordan and I discussed it, and felt moving back to Indiana was best, for my health, for my need of Jewish community, and to give him time to work on healing from his PTSD.

The week I arrived back in Indianapolis my housing fell through. That left me staying in my trailer. Not the biggest deal, I love living in a trailer and had been living in my fifth wheel for a year at that point. The issue lies with the fact that there are only three places to park an RV year round, that I know of, that is within driving distance of the Jewish community. This is important because I spend four days a week there between my commitments and the girls’ religious education. Of those three RV parks, 2 have pedophiles living on site, and the other is in one of the worst crime neighborhoods in the city.

Desperate, and without options, I moved into my in-laws back yard. They installed an RV electrical box. However, I had to cart my own water from October thru May, in 5 gallon buckets. Not exactly the end of the world in most cases, except the winter is when I am at my sickest and weakest. My father in-law helped some. But it was another stressor in an already stressful situation. A toxic family, in a house filled with mold. I avoided the house as much as possible. But with no running water, even the basics like showers and dishes require me to go into the house.

Thankfully, I did not lose my mobility this year. But everything fell apart when an extended family member was released from jail after taking a plea bargain for his pedophilia charges. I didn’t know he had been arrested or charged. I had never liked him and had always had that deep gut feeling to protect my children from him. But my mother in-law insists he is innocent. I will never understand a family who perpetually believes the perpetrator over the victim. But in this family you are shit out of luck if you are molested or raped, because no one will believe you. I made it very clear if I even saw the hint of a shadow of this man near our house, (I didn’t care that it was their house, my kids live on their property) if he came around at all, I would walk right out that door so fast and they would never see their grandkids again. I didnt care if that made us homeless.

That’s when I knew it was time to go. I guess the saying holds true, “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”  I got us into this mess. I just keep thinking if I love these people long and hard enough they will have that aha moment. Or maybe eventually they will accept me and stop beating me down. The sad part is they have completely broken me. And after nearly 13 years, nothing has changed. We are still having the same talks to hash out the same problems. The funny thing about a broken person, who has been burnt, and is living in the ashes, they find out who they are. I have become stronger and more confident in myself in the past year, through the heartache of accepting my mother for who she is, in accepting my brother for how he will always be, and yes, in letting go of the expectation that my in laws are not capable of loving and accepting me. In my illness, my oldest daughter has taught me how to live. And in all this heartbreak, G!d has taught me how to feel again. Truley, and deeply. To areas of my nefesh  that are so raw, it affects my every being.

So this brings me to the present. It’s time to go, and let go, and to be a family. Jordan has been getting help for his PTSD. He has a toolbox now, and the tools are few, but at least he has some.

I know the Jewish community is lacking tremendously in Colorado Springs, and Denver is just too far by a teensy little bit. But I have been without that Jewish community that I fell I love with. The one that made me decide to return? It was gone. I guess I was remembering what was. By the time summer was over so many things had changed, that everywhere I used to be plugged into was no longer available. The congregation was going in a new direction. And honestly, I didn’t have The heart to spend another three years rebuilding and engaging. I fully admit that falls squarely on my shoulders. I continued to volunteer. I still took the girls to their religious education. But I had lost myself amongst the crowd.

I know it’s going to be hard without a strong Jewish community, but its not impossible. And I will have my husband until he deploys, sort of. If always working and being gone nights and weekends in being there…. but at least it’s a start to being where I feel I need to be. By his side. Supporting him. Raising my kids. Being a family again.

The trouble is, every place we look at, it rents right out from underneath us. By the time Jordan gets down to the office to sign an application, we are already fifth or sixth in line. We had a lease on one place, but two days after the ink dried, the landlord backed out and tore the lease up because he found out we wouldn’t both be moving in on the same day. I’m in another state, and my husband was heading into the field for 2 weeks. All things we were transparent about from the beginning. This landlord only rents to military, yet he seemed to have no understanding of the military, and actually said very derogatory things to us. We could have sued, but only for the right to live there. And I, for one, did not want him as a landlord after that.

Another place actually turned us down because we made more money than the other guy, and we had our shit together. They felt sorry for this other family, who she admitted had bad credit. I kid you not! This other famy was also military, got behind on payments and rent and ended up in a tiny apartment with a sob story, and we lost the perfect little place to them. The landlord actually told me that I can afford to increase my budget, and so I won’t have trouble finding a place.

First of all, we live within our wage. If other people did as well, maybe they wouldn’t need a sob story. Second of all, our budget is our business, we are saving for our children’s college. Not something you can just use towards a larger rent payment each month. Third of all, we have been having trouble, three month, going on four, of place after place renting before we can even apply. Fourth of all, good luck getting this other family to pay their bills. They have shown themselves to be financially irresponsible.

One town + five military = housing crisis!

I am just discouraged right now. How is it this hard for me to move when my house has wheels? I feel like I am going to be stuck in my in-laws backyard forever. I feel like I am never going to be with my husband again. I feel like the promise of marriage is just an illusion, and if by some miracle I make it back to Colorado, he will deploy in March and we will just have to ride out another year. Another year alone, and lonely. Without the benefits of support having been established. And I already know that I get really sick in Colorado. Something about the extreme altitude makes my flare-ups and symptoms really bad. I have more seizures there as well. Which makes me terrified of driving. If I lose my license I would not be able to take care of my girls or myself. I couldn’t be independent anymore. I don’t even know how that would work while he was deployed, but when I was there last year and I was too weak to drive, his chain of command basically thought he was just a shamming shit bag, trying to get out of work. 

And here goes the other side of the ugly circle…. am I making a mistake moving to Colorado? The idea terrifies me. Yes, I would have my husband, and the kids would have their father. But I would be sick. And I would have no outside help. And I would have no Jewish community.

On the other hand, I’m sick anyway, what’s a little more? I seem to manage fine now, and while it would seem I have help if I needed it, honestly, its not all that much support. My in-laws maybe watch the girls an hour a month. And if I super need it, my sister in law will watch them, but she is usually the one I want to hang out with. As for my Jewish community, they have failed me, and I have failed them, in the past year. My biggest concern is just making sure the girls continue to get their religious education. And I think their is a passable amount of jewish education available to make the notion of moving worth considering.

So what is it that has me so petrified? What scares me more, going, or the continued rejection and not being able to go? And if he does find a place, how am I even going to get there? Without a second driver it will take me two trips because I have to get the fifth wheel too. I can’t drive a truck and trailer, and a uhaul, and my 5th wheel isn’t set up to pull a trailer. Dear husband’s unit is denying all leave right now for training reasons until Christmas. I never thought I would say this, but since when is having the 1Sgt behind you not enough? Ugh. So I won’t have husband’s help. And that means…..what…..? Pack up the kids, take a load, drive back, just to do it again? That’s at least 10 days. If all goes well. And I don’t get sick. Problem is, sitting for long hauls, like…oh….i don’t know….DRIVING cross county TWICE, triggers a flare up for me. I could be down for a month or two. And school is starting next month, I will have a house to put away, and a trailer to find storage for, all the transfer of bills, and social security, and shit… which means driving and waiting. Oh shit, I forgot how bad their social security office is there. Ugh. And I still have to finish up 3rd grade. We aren’t quite done in two subjects.

I know I can deal with it. I will soldier on. It’s what I do. The problem is, is that it is quite literally killing me. And until we find a place, I am stuck in a place of static. And worse than being unbalanced, is static, because static is death. It is a living death.

I’m tired of being sick all the time, but worse than that, I’m tired of dying. I’m ready to live. And I am so discouraged, because I am lost and alone in the dark. With no one to grab into. And the louder I cry out to HaShem, the further it seems to echo. I feel entombed in a cataclysm of my own internal war. I am ready to break out, and live again, but I also am afraid. I have been here for so long, I am comfortable, and I am afraid of the bright light that awaights me. I’m being raw and honest here. I also know that living begins at the edge of your comfort zone. So I don’t need to be comfortable anymore. I just dont know how to do that. I’m scared and alone and I want help.

I guess what I am most terrified of, is that at the end of the day, G!d/the universe/fate, whatever it is you believe in… personally I believe in G!d… I am terrified that all these closed doors for housing is a sign that it isn’t G!d’s will for me to be in Colorado. That fate has somehow decided that my husband and I being a family again just isn’t part of the big plan for our lives. Where does that leave me? I don’t believe people were meant to be alone. I know I survive fine without him, but as a post I recent read reminded me, “I want more than fine.” Has the last 12 years been for naught? Have I been holding on and fighting for something that can never be? There you have it folks, my inner most fear.

So now I am at the bottom. Totally, deflated. I am writing again. Nowhere to look but up. I will turn it all over to G!d and let Him guide my path, as I always do. But now, I also cry, alone, and in the dark. It’s so hard when I reach these places in my life. As a big picture person, I know that G!d sees an even bigger canvas, and He knows the whys, but it is still hard. I’m still struggling. Raising kids on my own while I’ve been so sick has been a challenge. But knowing they are growing up without their father has been a struggle all in its own category. I just want to be a family again. Even if only for a few month before he deploys again. I know it’s stupid to want to move there, just to be alone again, with no support. But he is my best friend, and my kids’ hero. And through all our issues, and all the unmet expectations, we are a family. And we want to be together. Is that really too much to long for?

Lost and Alone

In a crowded room
Of my closest kin
And dearest friends

While the light blazes bright
And the music drones on
I am in The dark
And I am all alone

In the cafe
Or at the mall
The walls close in
And the light grow dim
My throat closes tight
The fear rises up
I am in the the dark
And I am all alone

My heart cries out
For the one I love
Across the miles
And years apart
Will we ever be together
Or has fate been bitter?
I am in the dark
And I am all alone

I walk to the bimah
And crumple to my knees
In anguish the tears stream
As I cry out at Aron HaKodesh
ADONAI! Adonai?
Yet I feel all alone
I am kneeling in the dark

~Renee Keltner 2017

Losing God in Jerusalem

Losing God in Jerusalem

Reblogging as I want to share this. This brought a gambit of emotions up inside me.

Coffee Shop Rabbi

Image: A human shadow against a wall of Jerusalem stone. This image appears with Rabbi Nafshi’s article in Lilith.

Every now and then I read something and all I can think is, “Darn, I wish I’d written that.”

My colleague Rabbi Robin Nafshi has published an exquisite essay on the Lilith blog, Losing God in Jerusalem.

I encourage you to click the link and read it. I’m not going to spoil it for you by saying more.

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Oh the questions…

I have mentioned in the past how I am a bit of an alchemist. download  This has a story behind it.  In 2010 I started to get really sick.  It started with heart symptoms, and just dissolved from there.  I collected a new symptom about every other month for about 3 years.  After that, The symptoms still came but the rate slowed from which they came.  For three years while we were in Denver I saw every specialist the Army sent me to, but I changed primary doctors every three to six months because the army brought in and changed out my primary manager that often because…, well…, the army sucks that’s just army life. After three years I was continuously told that nothing was wrong with me, that it was either all in my head, I was making it up for attention, or I was just tired because I had special needs kids, and my husband was a soldier.  The doctors with the latter opinion always handed me a sleeping pill prescription.

By 2013 I had moved to Indiana.   Shortly after moving to Indiana in 2013 I started losing my mobility.  By August of 2013, I was reduced to using a walker and was mostly bed ridden.  About that time I realized I was on 28 different medications.  I was on medication for the side effects of my medications.  I had no way to know where my actual symptoms ended and where the pills started.  I had been diagnosed with POTS, Fibromyalgia,  and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.  The Doctors were also screening for Continue reading “Oh the questions…”

“I’ve misplaced the nothing box”

~Joel Hewitt~ while high 

Homeward Bound

We  are on our way home from D.C. today. We actually left last night. My in laws left yesterday morning, but the kids and I, my sister-in-law, and her housemate all stayed to tour the Holocaust Museum. 

Just getting out of D.C. last night was a nightmare because all our experience so far this week was headed north to the campground. Last night however, we were attempting to head east during commuter traffic, something we hadn’t tried, and GPS was failing us. The dumb thing kept recalculating, telling us to turn the wrong way down roads that were one ways, and on top of that, during certain times you can’t turn at most intersections because of heavy traffic patterns during rush hour. We persevered though, and we got out.

Anyway, we are done y’all. We are ready to be home. My kids got out of the truck and just left their toys on the ground. Even the toys are done! The horses just gave up and laid down right there on the pavement.

Shabbat Shalom. Have a happy rest. We will. We are almost to our beds!