Bouncing Back

I now officially look like a three day old Chia Pet. My hair is coming in quickly. Hopefully quick enough so that when we are in the Cayman Islands next week I don’t burn my scalp. I also started physical therapy last week and I am officially way out of shape.

We are in Boston this weekend. Jacqui is at a Bar Mitzvah and I am working.

Hope everyone out there is doing well.

Mother’s Day

Jacqui, Sophia and I celebrated Jacqui’s first mother’s day as a mother at the Mainline Inn for dinner. Historically, mother’s day has been a rough day for Jacq, having lost her mother when she was nine. Today we remembered Jacqui’s mother Teri and celebrated her and Jacqui’s connections through time as mothers. Over dinner, as Jacq talked about the joy she felt thinking about how she and her mother now shared in motherhood and how she drew strength thinking about how her mother held and loved her in the same way that she was at that moment holding and loving Sophia, Jacq acknowledged how mother’s day would be a much happier day going forward, and how a new closeness to her mother would be an important source of strength for her as a parent. See, good things can come from hallmark holidays.

Fathers of the World, Unite!!!

I am certainly not one to belittle the importance of mothers. With mother’s day coming up in a few days, Sophia and I are excited to be honoring Jacqui on her first mother’s day, and all of us are looking forward to honoring our moms with cards, gifts, and some simple “I Love Yous”.

But there is nothing that I find more obnoxious than when I am holding my daughter and she is crying for this or that reason and Jacqui is nearby and someone inevitably says, “she needs her mother.” During Sophia’s baby naming last Saturday, Sophia got upset and started crying and immediately the call came out from someone “she needs her mom.” I handed her off to Jacq, not because I thought she needed her mom any more than me, but because it was my turn to speak at the lectern. Little Sophia stopped crying for about .000001 of a second, and then started wailing again. And smiling daddy’s across the globe felt vindicated.

The only time my little girl absolutely needs her mama more than me is when she is hungry. And last I checked I got no milk to give. Otherwise, us dads can handle our little babies just fine, thank you very much. So next time someone out there sees a dad in distress with a mom standing by, don’t say, “aw, the baby needs their mommy.” Say instead, “that baby is real lucky to have such a loving dad.”

What’s in a Name?

Yesterday family and friends gathered at our synagogue to celebrate the baby naming of our little Sophia. It was a wonderful day, filled with joy and happiness, something we’ve all been looking forward to for a long, long time. Below are the thoughts that Jacqui and I shared at the ceremony yesterday.

Jacqui: Sophia Teri, Sarah Tovah in Hebrew, is named after my mother, Sandra Teri or Sarah Tovah, who died when I was nine years old. I have waited most of my life for this special opportunity, and I stand here before you honored to be bestowing the name of my extraordinary mother on our beautiful daughter, but deeply saddened that my mother is not here with us to share in our joy.

About 6 weeks ago I took Sophia on her first trip to the Franklin Institute, Philly’s science museum. It was a special day for me because I have so many fond memories of going to the Boston Science Museum with my dad when I was a kid. So that day that Sophia and I went the big exhibit was King Tut. And on one of the walls in the middle of the exhibit was an ancient Egyptian saying: “to speak the name of the dead is to make them live again”. This quote spoke to me and I have thought about it often since that day. In particular because my mother has never been as alive to me as in the last 5 months since Sophia was born. I can feel her vibrancy, love, and compassion. I can appreciate the sense of responsibility that she felt for me as a first time mother with a new baby girl. I can understand the commitment she made to making the world a better place particularly for women so that her little girl could grow up with choices. I can identify with her need to be protective of her daughter and yet at the same time encourage growth. Mostly I love greater than I have ever loved before and I know she did too. And in my most special moments with Sophia I feel my mother there with us.

Sophia is lucky enough to have the name Sarah after two other special women as well; our paternal grandmothers. What I can say about my grandmother is that she is the reason my father is the warm, sensitive, nurturing, and compassionate person that he is. His mother doted on him and later on me, and always took care of everyone else before herself. Sophia has already honored my grandmother’s memory in all that has given to those around her. Today’s celebration is not just about what we are giving to Sophia, but all that she has given and will continue to give us.

Michael: Jacqui and I want to thank all of our friends and family for being here today. And we want to especially thank the synagogue community for all of their support and love this past year. A special thank you to the Rabbi and Cantor who have been so wonderful to our family, and to the Young Professionals group who brought us meals while I was completing chemotherapy.

There is something bittersweet about naming a child in the Jewish faith. We pass on names only after we have lost a loved-one, and in doing so—like we do each week when we read from ancient texts—do our best to honor our ancestors. In Sophia’s name we also honor my paternal grandmother Sarah Yudell. Sophia, we hope to honor your great-grandma Sarah by instilling in you her best traits–her love of and dedication to her family, her love of life, and her incredible dancing skills. She and my grandfather danced the Charleston like few others.

I want to say a few more words about Sophia. Our little Sophia is our miracle baby. The day after she arrived I found out that the lymphoma for which I just competed treatment was gone. The other miracle is that on November 30th 2006, her birthday, my father, Sophia’s grandpa Allen, became a grandpa—a role that he so patiently looked forward to, but sadly, a role that was tragically cut short when he died just three months after Sophia’s birth. My promise to Sophia is that through us she will always know that in his three short months with her, her grandfather loved her a lifetimes worth of love, and that his love and his warmth, his strength of spirit and his optimism will always be a part of her.

The Importance of Eyebrows

Eyebrows are definitely under-appreciated. True, not as forgotten as, let’s say, our ever-important bile ducts or the workmanship-like spleen. And how many of you out there even know we have a tiny organ in our chest called the thymus? But our unappreciated eyebrows, those hairy arches that divide our foreheads from the rest of our face deserve a lot of credit for distinguishing us from the rest of God’s creatures (well, not really, but I really wanted to say that), and keeping us from looking like characters from an X-Files episode.

It is true that for some, eyebrows can be a bane. The unibrow remains a universally bad look, and for some women, eyebrow plucking and waxing is akin to torture.

But for me, now temporarily eyebrowless in the wake chemotherapy, I can say without hesitation that I miss my eyebrows terribly and I impatiently await their return.



So said Steve Schuster, my doctor, who saw me today and gave me a green light to get back to life and good health and hopefully a very long lymphoma free-future.

He was telling me to chill because I have been a bit anxious the last few days, poking at my neck and anywhere else I thought I could find a lymph node that might have decided not to cooperate with the program. But after being poked and prodded by a professional (Dr. Schuster), I have been told that there is nothing abnormal there, and that I should stop poking before I hurt myself by poking at an artery and cutting off blood flow to my brain.

So I am officially chilling. Something I did so well for 7 1/2 months of chemo, and something I started doing again today. A few weeks of freaking out post-chemo actually felt normal, especially given all that I have been through.

And so life marches on in a good way, with all sorts of fun and games and writing and teaching and traveling and etc., etc., etc.