I’ve been silent these past months, not by choice but because grief, depression, and crippling anxiety attacks have rendered me immobile. I have felt stationary – unable to muster basic interest in most things besides sleeping, reading, and endlessly scrolling through social media feeds. I’ve still pushed myself everyday; I’ve still gotten out of bed and gone to work, but that in and of itself has caused anxiety as I question my ability to do my job, my career choices, and my prospects for the future.
My dad believed in visitors from the afterlife. He was also a man of stories, and one of his frequent stories was a memory from when his younger brother, John, died as a teenager in the early 70s. The story goes like this: John was in his hospital bed, comatose in the very last minutes of life. My dad had rushed to his bedside from several hours north, barely making it in time. Right before John succumbed to cancer and died, my dad looked up and saw, floating near the ceiling in the corner of that hospital room, ethereal versions of his grandmother, grandfather, and an aunt. Dad said it was as if they were there to greet John’s spirit on the other side. Continue reading “Waiting”
Three weeks, one day.
These days, I measure the passage of time based on my father’s passing. In these subsequent 22 days since his death, grief has taken its place in my life like a shadow. My only real reprieve is for a few hours of work each day when I’m so immersed in the crazy world of employee relations that I can compartmentalize my pain.
My dad died nine days ago after having suffered a massive stroke two days prior. He died in a hospital in southeastern Indiana while my connecting flight was sitting on the tarmac in Salt Lake City, getting ready to take off for Indianapolis.
I didn’t get to say goodbye.
I haven’t blogged much lately, but in my defense, I was just promoted and have been very, very busy. I’m extremely grateful for the promotion and the generous raise that came with it, but it does require more work to be at this new level and I realize that. I used to be a prolific writer and blogger, but my career took a turn four years ago and I’ve struggled with finding time to write ever since. That’s likely to continue!
All that being said, I just went through my first experiences with the Jewish High Holy Days and it affected me profoundly. I have been struggling finding the right synagogue, and there aren’t a lot around here to choose from in the first place, but the one I was attending is no longer palatable. The rabbi I’m studying under, who was at the helm of that synagogue, has left and, out of loyalty to her and disgust with the leadership there, I haven’t gone back. This frustration, though, led me to a synagogue about 25 minutes away that I now know will be my future home for Jewish life and worship. Rosh Hashanah services there were absolutely breathtaking. My old synagogue was tiny, like being in someone’s living room, but this new place is large, with pews and the most gorgeous, two story ark that holds the Torah. They also have a choir that sings in Hebrew (of course). This music, combined with the prayers, moved me greatly. Rosh Hashanah is now my favorite Jewish holiday, but Yom Kippur is the one that affected me the most.
The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the Days of Awe. It’s a time to “get right” with those we have had strife and struggle with over this past year. As Yom Kippur approached and then passed, one person kept appearing in my head, over and over again: my brother. Continue reading “Forgiveness. Can you imagine?”
Lately, my conversations with my mom have gone a little like this:
Mom: “I sure would love to come out and visit again.”
Me: “I’d love for you to see western Washington in the fall.”
Mom: “I’d really love to come out and celebrate Christmas with you.”
Me: “No more Christmases for me, remember?”
Mom: *sounds of crying into her iPhone*
Mom: “I saw the cutest thing I wanted to buy you for Christmas, and then I remembered that I couldn’t…”
Me: “Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve this year, Mom. You can buy gifts if you want.”
Mom: *cheerfully* Okay!
Of all my memories, the one I associate most with my grandfather is a crushed velvet couch piled six across and two high with Cabbage Patch Dolls. Blondes. Brunettes. Redheads. Boys. Girls. There seemed to be one of every kind displayed on that couch in that wood-paneled living room.
Being on the other side of the continent from my family – both close and extended – these past two years has afforded me a lot of freedom. I’ve been able to do a lot of soul searching and self-analysis without the family pressures of “maintaining status quo” or just going with established norms. This time has allowed me to come to terms with who I really am, what I believe, and solidify my core beliefs about what is right. Raised conservative, I’m now about as far left politically as a person can go, and close-minded people who spend their lives lobbying against the personal interests, private matters, and basic freedoms of other people are, in my opinion, not worth my time. I’ve also always been outspoken, but I’m now that way more than ever, and all of this leads up to what happened a few weeks ago.