OyChicago blog

18, Chai, Life.

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10/18/2011

Jenna Benn photo 

18
Chai
Life.

Over the last 18 months I hoped for your arrival.
I conceptualized you when Cancer was privately dancing from cell to cell.
I dreamed of you when I was tied up, hooked up, strapped down.
I believed in you when I was checked out, recovering, rebuilding.
18
Chai
Life.
On Sept. 18, the hope, the dream, the belief that I would be able to lead a group of 18 young professionals to Austria was realized.
I wasn’t sure this day would come.
I wasn’t sure I would be able to be with you.
And yet there I was, and here I am.
18
Chai
Life.
As I explored Austria’s jaded past and wrestled with her current complexities, my relationship with Cancer changed.
She was no longer front and center.
She was no longer at the forefront of my mind.
She was no longer screaming.
18
Chai
Life.
As I allowed myself be present, I started to unlock the parts of myself that had been forgotten, the parts of myself that had been on hold, and the parts of myself that had been quieted.
Cancer’s cries were muffled.
Cancer’s song was but a murmur.
Cancer had become a shadow of her former self.
18
Chai
Life.
I had arrived!
The person I was before Cancer was reawakened.
The person I am now in spite of Cancer was celebrated.
The person I hope to be because of Cancer was contemplated.
18
Chai
Life.
As I walked through the streets of Vienna, and I discovered the lives lost, the stories untold, the moments taken,
I started to write a new chapter.
I started to tell a new story.
I started to create new moments that did not involve Cancer.
18.
Chai.
Life.
As I lost myself in the Jewish narratives of hardship, trauma, survival, and resilience, I found my story reflected in their stories—and their stories reflected in mine.
I was reminded of where I have been.
I was reminded of where I am at.
And I was reminded of how much further I have yet to go.
18.
Chai.
Life.
18, Chai, Life—I see you everywhere, you are beautiful, and I am forever grateful for you.
Cancer—while you may have quieted, you continue to show me that there is meaning in every moment, every experience, every victory, and every obstacle. There is meaning in overwhelming happiness, and there is meaning in intolerable suffering.
May this year you all choose to find meaning in your sea of moments.
I assure you, meaning is there, simply waiting for your discovery.
Here’s to 18.
Here’s to Chai.
Here’s to Life—with meaning.

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