Monday, December 11, 2017

A Year of Mourning - Post-shiva - When Reality Sets In

It’s quiet now, although some visitors still trickle in. It’s better than having everyone disappear at once. There’s still plenty of food. I busy myself by packing some up and freezing it in single servings. The baked goods also go into the freezer. It’s quiet, too quiet. Mom and I support each other. In some ways we’re also simply moving past each other. My days revolve around minyan and what I can do to help Mom. I’m not sure of the focus of her days. At times we sit and talk, about Dad or Mom’s plans for the next week or month or year. 

Shabbat is... I lack words. Perhaps it’s best just to say Shabbat is. Mom is napping when I going to minyan Friday night. I leave dinner in the oven. We eat quietly. It’s calm and nice. Mom’s not feeling well in the morning. She says she wants to go with me, and I’m sure she believes it. But minyan was never her thing, and I believe she doesn’t really want to be there. There I’m accepted as part of the minyan now. Everyone looks for me to arrive. I think they will miss me when I leave. 

Shabbat morning brings flurries. By the time I walk home from shul it’s coming down hard. There is little wind, and the temperature isn’t too cold. It’s like walking in a wonderland. I sing some zemirot as I walk, enjoying the time outside. 

Going home Sunday morning seems odd. I tear up waiting at security. On some level it wasn’t real until now. But now I’m going home and I’ll never see my father again. So I sit quietly crying outside the gate while waiting for my flight. 

On the plane. I’m among the first to board. I locate the exits and recite tefillat haderekh, my own regular routine. I’m okay until the plane begins to taxi. Then the grief hits me. I wonder what my seat mate is thinking, this young woman silently sobbing, tears flowing from my eyes and down my cheeks. I’m strangely aware that the collar of my sweater is now damp. It’s as if the grief heightens senses. I wish part of shiva could have been at home, surrounded by my own support system. Instead I needed to support my mother and aunt. On the one hand, I could not imagine sitting without them. I needed the family time, the shared memories and laughter. On the other hand, I also needed my community, my minyan(im). It’s too real now. I can’t be home soon enough to hold my children and curl up in my own bed. To have Gavi and Keren stand next to me, supporting me while getting support, as they did when we got the news. Keren asked for comfort food for dinner. There isn’t enough in the world to fill the hole in me. Maybe that’s why shiva is so filled with food.


Coming in for a landing. It’s only 12:35. It feels as if this day has lasted forever. Soon we will be on the ground, and the rest of shloshim, the routine of the next year will set in. I cannot wait to embrace it.

I wrote in an earlier post about the waves of emotion that ebb and flow, at times cresting like a tidal wave. The trip home is like that. While away our Permanent Resident cards expire. I need to enter through immigration instead of passport control. The guard asks me about why I left before my new card arrived. As I explain, I begin crying again. Then I try to explain how these moments come and go. Now I'm laughing while crying. The poor guard lets me leave quickly.

The first minyan at home. I sort of dread entering our shul, Pride of Israel.  Everyone wants to talk to me, though some hold back, seeming to realize I'm somewhat overwhelmed. Tears come, but do not escape my eyes. Monday morning I'm at Beth Emeth. Only a few people know me. It's a little easier. Tears still threaten, but it's getting easier.