Rough Time of Year
Yahrtzeits are difficult. Every year on the anniversary of a close relative’s death, we light a memorial candle. The kaddish is recited in shul and it’s generally a day of reflection and remembrance. Everyone told me that with time, loss gets easier to bear. Some elements are less painful, but others are not. At the end of this Jewish month it will be 20 years since my father died. I was young and impressionable, I was hurting, I was confused. I am no longer so confused – but the pain of his loss is something that I have adjusted to, not something that has been minimized.
Last summer I decided to write a book, the story of my life. What emerged after hours of painful soul-bearing, my words bleeding through the keyboard, was chapter upon chapter based on the loss of my father. Writing this book (yet to be finished) has been cathartic but oh so very painful. I had not realized until that point just how much his loss defined me, shaped me, turned me into the person I have become. He’s been gone for half my life now – how strange that feels.
I lost my father twice. When he left our family when I was a little girl, and again when he died when I was 19 – days away from turning 20. At 19 I knew him no better than I did at 3. There is so much room for wondering, and if onlys. I grew up without a strong male presence in my life – something that has affected me in very many ways. He was never around, and that was his choice. But it altered me. And sometimes I wonder if I would be different (better?) had he been part of my life, even up until the time he died. Wondering doesn’t get one very far. It is what it is. He is gone. I cannot change the past. I can just deal with it and learn from it and look forward, using the lessons of the past to improve my future.
It’s also been 12 years since I lost my beloved paternal grandmother – my Savta – she and I were so very close, and two days after my father’s yahrtzeit it will be 16 years since we lost his father, my much loved Saba. So much loss. Yet, so much love. My grandparents loved us so much. Being the only granddaughter (four grandsons) I was spoiled a little more than my brothers when we spent time with them in the summers. Every trip to stay with them turned into shopping expeditions – and they loved to show me off. (My brothers hated to shop. Their loss). But it was more than that. While we were with them, we were the center of their world. I treasure each and every memory that I have with them. I miss them, but feel so blessed to have had them in my life.