On March 7, 2019 my grandma, Barbara Schwartz, passed away. Exactly one month from today.
As a family, we decided to meet up in New York City, to celebrate her life. She was a New Yorker you see, laid to rest in a Jewish cemetery in Jersey, next to my great-grandmother Mary, who I am named after.
My brother, sister and I all decided to fly in without our families as together we have six kids under the age of five. We wanted to have adult time, focused on my grandma, without being distracted by the need for snacks, naps and constant entertainment. (Well, except Quinny who is still breastfeeding, so she doesn’t count.)
That meant I was going to leave my boys in Tokyo for a week. That’s no biggie, except Steve has a something called a J.O.B. With Chase in school 3-days a week and Anders out everyday at 2:25, all of a sudden, I needed a hand.
Now here’s the thing, I always felt like the Tokyo community I am a part of is something special - something different. I always felt like I was woven into something magical here - something I have never been a part of on this level before. And when the time came for me to really need some help, the community I have here caught me when I was falling and lifted me up.
In a day, I had a master Google doc rocking, informing Steve of where to pick up the boys after work. A different friend every day. Some days, the boys were with separate families. Some days together. But always, in good hands. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced. You see, when you don’t have family in town, you become each other’s family.
Friends made Anders a birthday cake, took the boys way past the time we planned and invited Steve over for dinner too. It was pretty remarkable. I truly felt lucky I could be present in NYC, knowing all three of my boys were being taken care of above-and-beyond back home.
Back in the city that never sleeps, we had a lovely service for my grandma. Family members surprised us by showing up unannounced, making my mom’s heart swell. I wrote a little something for my grandma and felt at peace with it all. We went back to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and ate bagels with lox. Five out of the eight of us fell asleep.
And the next day we headed into the city, checking out her old haunts, eating at her favorite deli on the Lower East Side, doing a little shopping and catching Hamilton on Broadway. Kinda her perfect day. Kinda mine too.
I feel blessed to have had this time with my family. I also feel blessed this experience showed me I have a family in Tokyo too. Cause in the end, it’s truly the relationships in your life that matter the most.
This is what I wrote for my grandma and shared at her funeral: