Sunday, November 25, 2018

A Year in Mourning - And So It Ends

My Kaddish year is over. Twelve months of Kaddish. Most often people recite Kaddish for eleven months. It stems from a superstition that Kaddish helps the deceased’s soul move on. I see the halakhah referring to a full year. If my father’s soul has moved on, whether after one month or eight, it does nothing to lessen my obligation to him and to myself.

And now it’s over. It seems like so long and only just yesterday. It’s been a difficult last month or so. Beginning with the High Holidays, about which I’ve been meaning to write. There’s so much to tell, but as the year began to draw to a close I found I needed to keep my feelings close to my heart. Unlike so much of the year, when my memories of Daddy ebbed and flowed, he’s been so ever-present.

Yizkor was not so difficult, even easier on Shemini Atzeret. The ritual pulls you through from one prayer to another. Though tears fell from my eyes, I knew, on Yom Kippur, that I had a talk to give immediately following, and so I did. And then I went on to the main sanctuary for Musaf. And as I drew my tallit, my father’s tallit, over my head, the tears began to fall, blurring the words. In years to come I will see the tear stains on the page and remember that day, that day when I stood alone, but embraced by my father wrapped in his tallit.

On Simchat Torah, I wrapped Keren in my tallit, taking hers for myself. She was cold, and my tallit is more substantial. The next time I donned my tallit, the tzitzit were braided tightly like I did with my father’s tzitzit more times than I can count.

And then the final month... While others who began with me finished their eleven months of Kaddish, I continued. These weeks went more slowly, trickling to their end. But end they did. How strange to recite Kaddish at Mincha, and answer amen at Maariv. But how much stranger to officiate at tefillot a day later, reciting Kaddish again, not as a mourner but solely as a rabbi. I am no longer a part of group, now standing outside, one of the supporters

But that’s how it works. Quietly, with no ritual to ground you. A candle is lit. A final Kaddish is said, and you return to life with you memories and hopefully mostly healed heart.

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