These three weeks leading to Tisha B’av are weeks of reflection and understanding. It is a time to remember our greatest losses and try to understand how we, as fragile and circumspect human beings, can become better people. We remember all that has gone before and pray for what the future holds.

What brought about the destruction of the Temples; the burden of diaspora; the persecution and the horrors visited upon the Children of Israel over all these millennia? We are told that it is our hubris. Our failure to follow Hashem’s laws. We are told that our sins are visited upon our children.

Honestly I do reject it all. Burdens are of our own making. We take upon ourselves either a positive or a negative attitude about our lives and the decisions we have to make. We look back on the year that was and in hindsight decide what could have been done better.

It has been over a year that I had to let my mother go.That I had to abide by her wishes as her healthcare proxy and know that hospice was what was best for her. That a fight that might have left her in a coma, or severely disabled, was not what she would have wanted. It has been a year since I began the process of closing out her estate, selling off what was left of my parent’s lives and figuring out how I was going to live the rest of my life as an orphan. It has been a year of second guessing, nightmares and quiet moments of sobbing. A year of mourning sometimes is simply not enough.

It has been a year that began with my autistic sons still having not found work, even the one with a Master’s degree. It has been a year that they both sat alone at home, only going out occasionally to school for one class a semester, just so they could continue on in the world. It had been a year that they were without peers and friends and sat alone with no programs or support that I could not financially provide them. It had been a year that we redid our will so that they would be protected as best they could be, if both my husband and I were to die. But in the end, we know that everything in the future for them will still depend upon the kindness of strangers. Yet, it has been a year that in the end, the boys did find good jobs and are slowly back to building their lives, along with continuing their education. It was a year that hope springs eternal, and that perhaps, as we have always worked towards, these boys, now young men, will lead happy and independent lives.

It has been a year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I didn’t even care. Oh, of course I went for treatment, and will continue to take care of my health. But it was a year that the social worker at the cancer center sent me for counseling because in the scheme of my life, the cancer was the least of my problems. I laugh at it really, when cancer is the least of the things you worry about. And yes today I am cancer free. It was found in my mammogram before it had spread beyond that little area of my breast. I would say LUCKY is too small a word to describe how I feel. In truth I understand simply how lucky I am. Maybe that is why I am not really that scared.

So what is the year to come? I don’t know. On Tisha B’av we remember all the evil that came before us. But I think we need to look towards the good as well. We need to see the positive in our lives. I am tired of the sadness and the loss. I am tired of feeling overwhelming emotional pain.

What I do know, is that life is all about never giving up and trying to figure out the next step. We mourn those we lose. We fight for our children. We take care of our own health so that we too can have a future.

This Tisha B’av I am going to look towards the future and not the past. While we are products of our history, our future is in our own hands. Make of your future what you will. Mine is going to be one of joy, hope and happiness.