Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Year of Mourning - Memory and Mourning

I’m more than half-way through my year. There are moments when I wonder what it will be like to have choices in my day. Of course all observance is a choice, but once made the path is clear. There are moments when I dream of sleeping in, of taking a break. And in all these moments I think of memories, memories of Daddy that come unbidden to mind. They float in from the ether, invading my mind, and invading my day.

Talking on the phone with Jesse, or writing to Gavi or Keren I think about conversations with Daddy. I end every conversation, every letter or email with “I love you.” I cannot remember ever hearing those words from my father. It didn’t matter. We knew he loved us. He showed us through so many of his actions, even through his words, though never literally. Years ago I realized Daddy never said, “I love you,” and I made sure to say it to him.  Every phone conversation, multiple times each visit, I made sure to tell him. I don’t know why he couldn’t say the words, but I wanted him to hear them. And I started saying them more and more to my children, my husband, my friends. I never felt hurt that Daddy couldn’t say the words; I was sad for him. He dealt with depression and frustration, and no matter how many time I told him that I loved him, I’m not sure he believed it. Perhaps he didn’t think he was able to be truly loved.

As I bought a subscription to Mirvish, looking forward to a year of performances, I think about my introduction to theatre and the arts. Daddy preferred opera or symphony. Movies were not his thing, but he’d put up with hours of good, bad, or mediocre tv to spend time with Russell and me. Mom would walk in and ask, “Why are you watching this garbage?!” But it was never him. It was our choice. Daddy insisted there be only one tv in the house. “If we’re not going to talk to each other, at least we’ll be in the same room, and you’ll have to talk once or twice an hour” as we discussed/argued over what to watch next. And so Daddy invades my television choices.

Today I finished Ilana Kurshan’s “If All the Seas Were Ink,” her memoir that follows her study of daf yomi, the seven year cycle of studying the entire Talmud. Daddy loved learning of all kinds. Discovering Talmud was a gift to him, a gift that was eventually taken away with his focus. I find the idea of daf yomi intriguing, and I wonder if I have the discipline to accomplish it. I’d like to study in Daddy’s honour. But even more so, I’d like to study with him, to live close by and spend a couple of hours a day working through the pages of Talmud. We’d never be able to do it. Daf yomi takes a focus we simply didn’t have, but also a willingness to learn on the surface level. It is impossible to delve into the page in any depth every day while still living life. We never learned that way. We’d pick a topic apart, examining it from all side; Daddy playing devil’s advocate, pushing, pushing us to deeper understanding and ability to explain ourselves.

I wonder what it will be tomorrow. Will I think of skating? Of vacations? Or something completely different?

Half-way through Daddy’s more in my life today than ever.