Tisha B’Av

So, this was Mike’s “Freedom from chemo” week. Every 4th week he skips his trip to Emory. However, he still has the capsules, Revlimid, that he takes at home. He is supposed to take 1 capsule per day for 21 days, then stop for 7 days, and then repeat the cycle. He had to stop the first cycle after 5 days because he started to run a fever, and the second time he tried it he had to stop after 7 days because of a rash. He called Emory early this week and let them know the rash was (almost) gone, so he was given a green light to try it again; but they told him to stop the medication if he gets another rash. So, he started it again on Thursday. Last night (Saturday) he noticed an itchy raised red patch on his leg. He told Judy that technically it might not really be a rash, because it is only one spot. Also, it looked nothing like the rash he got last time from Revlimid. So, he will continue to take the medication unless he gets more spots, or another kind of rash; or a fever; or a cough; or blood clots. You get the idea. Mike is invested in taking Revlimid because he thinks it is a critical component of his “kill  the cancer” campaign. Let’s hope for good things for him. Thus far he has had good feedback on improvement from the myeloma, but no feedback on the lymphoma. That is about to change. On August 12 he has a repeat PET scan, which will give a report on how much the tumors have shrunk (if at all.) Once again, let’s hope for good things. Mike is very grateful that he has felt so well thus far on his journey. And, he wanted me to tell you that he is immensely grateful for all of your prayers, love, and support.

From sundown on August 10 to sundown on August 11, this year, the worldwide Jewish community celebrates a solemn fast day. The holiday is known as Tisha B’Av, or, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. The day is the culmination of 3 weeks of mourning commencing on the 17th day of the Hebrew month Tammuz. On that date in the year 70 CE the Romans breached the walls of Jerusalem and began to slaughter the Jews and destroy the city. On the 9th of Av they set fire to the Holy Temple. This occurred 502 years, to the date, after the Babylonians destroyed the first temple. Other disasters in Jewish history occurred on the 9th of Av, including the fall of Betar in 133 CE, resulting in the butchery of tens of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children by the Romans, effectively ending the Bar Kochba revolt. On the 9th of Av in 1290 CE the Jews were expelled from England, and on the same date in 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. (I hope I got all these dates right.) During the 3 weeks of mourning, traditional Jews abstain from listening to music, making significant purchases, or holding weddings. On Tisha B’Av it is customary to fast, pray, abstain from pleasurable activities, and in the synagogue the Book of Lamentations is read. Mike is not an observant Jew, so he does none of these things specifically. But, he marks the day in his prayers of the day. He is also aware that on every day of the calendar year some atrocity has been perpetrated against Jews. Furthermore, he is aware that Jews hold no exclusive monopoly on being victims of religious or ethnic hatred and genocide. But since he is Jewish, he does take special note of what has befallen and what continues to savage his brethren. The truth is that if one group is not safe then no-one is safe. Hatred and violence perpetuate more hatred and violence. There is much to be said for turning the other cheek, and for loving one’s neighbor as oneself.

Mike and Michelle were in Israel on Tisha B’Av in 1993, and visited the kotel, the Western Wall that supports the Temple Mount. It was quite an experience. In traditional synagogues people are still praying in the liturgy for the restoration of the Temple. For most modern Jews, including Mike, this form of worship would have no appeal or meaning. Mike doesn’t think that God really loves the smell of burning flesh of bullocks and lambs. But, after over 2000 years, it doesn’t look likely that the temple will be rebuilt.  I think it is worth noting that if you look around you won’t find the Roman empire, the Babylonian empire, the Spanish Inquisition, or the Third Reich. But it is hard to go anywhere in the world where the Jews cannot be found, even Siberia (See “the Adventure Unfolds”, May 4, 2019.) Jews have spread all over the world mostly because wherever they were living life had gotten too tough or too dangerous to stay. This has never changed and probably never will. One and probably the main advantage of the Jewish diaspora is that it makes it that much harder to get rid of them all, for whatever evil or wacky reason someone might have to want to do so.

It was 40 years ago, on August 2, 1979, that New York Yankee catcher Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. He was practicing takeoffs and landings in the small jet plane that he had purchased 3 weeks previously. He was  much admired by his teammates, friends, family, and baseball fans for his baseball skills, leadership qualities, and strength of his personality and character. His death was a shock to everyone who followed baseball at all.  Despite his 11 years of outstanding stewardship behind the plate for the Yankees, he remains unrecognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame. I personally don’t care that much  (remember, I am a cat), but it is a pet peeve of Mike’s. He has a very hard time listening to sportswriters pontificating on why some player or other doesn’t deserve to be in whatever hall of fame is being discussed. Mike would either abolish the halls of fame altogether or leave the voting up entirely to the people who actually played or coached the game.  I suppose in one sense sports are not really that important. But, if you think about it, sports are a much more civilized way to conduct warfare. If you are a Georgia fan you can get pretty worked up about Florida, but nobody in Georgia is going to raise an army and go across the border to rape, pillage, and slaughter Floridians, men, women, and children, and sell the survivors into slavery.

So, it is another day in Happy Meadows. As usual, there is not that much going on. It rained this morning. Some folks have gone to church. Michelle is coming over later. It will be nice to see her. Mostly, life is good. I hope all of you find it so. Until next time, so long from Happy Meadows, and may you all be comforted from whatever sorrows may have come your way.

Author: Black Magic

Black Magic is a handsome, charming, and self-absorbed cat who lives with Mike and Judy Gordon in Marietta, Georgia. He is about 7 years old, and he will remind you at every opportunity that his grandfather was Black Jack, that famous cat who wrote his own autobiography. Black Magic has a great many opinions, and despite his natural feline arrogance, he seems to be genuinely spiritual. But the reader can decide for him/herself.

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