A week ago I confronted them, and I had two choices:
- Use these yitzok words for a beloved, sorely missed, but properly passed
- Use the other yitzok works for someone still not understood, and now gone
Because I couldn’t decide which prayer to use, I used them both. Then I returned to my weeping: a (sorry to say it this way) sweeping weeping that did not include nose-running, redness, or puffy eyes. The tears poured down my face for three hours, longer because I got to the service early and immediately began creating a sea of sadness for everyone around me to slosh through.
Surely this weeping has a practical point we can talk about.
But no thought in particular came to mind. Others around me were shedding, capping ten days of self-scrutiny with minute pops of forgiveness: little bubbles bursting at odd intervals from different quarters. First one to the left and now another a few minutes later four rows up on the right, shaking, and shaking free, of some weight. If I hadn’t been dragging in my own loss I’d have certainly gone to pieces observing theirs.
But we are all in it. Pretty much all the time.
The service contained the customary reading of a Kafka short story. I was so pleased I had discovered this group of people: who included. in their Dr. Bronner-style photocopied prayer book, meditative statements for those who don’t believe in God, who urged you to close your eyes only if you were open to doing so, who created great spaces of reflection brought to a close by ascending chant, who used a language that contained no word for sin: rather, a word roughly translated as
missing the mark.
Last year my name was inscribed in the Book of Life. On my way home from Kol Nidre, completely, utterly blown away by the enormity of forgiveness, I thought someone was entering my lane without noticing I was there. I swerved to avoid them and started cascading all over the freeway: hitting no one, spinning in circles, slowing imperceptibly until I saw the embankment approaching, and realized I was on a flyover. I didn’t fly over. I just came to rest in the emergency lane very neatly facing the wrong way. Z was following at a safe distance, later admitted that my life had flashed before his eyes, pulled up with the emergency flashers going and notified the authorities. Traffic was stopped and I was turned around, pushed off the road and towed home. The entire event took less than an hour. We walked away from the parked dart to the all night diner up the block and I had a very good egg, and a very good cup of coffee.
We were supposed to be fasting, if we were open to fasting.
It was a really good egg.
This year, I was still shoveling while others started to float, milan kundera-style, around the pews and between the tastefully protestant columns: doric order. Such a long year. I can’t even remember its beginning, but for the car crash I punctuated it with.
It was a year that lasted ten.
Everyone did the very best that they could.
We’re down a few, look at all the empty places in these hearts.
I’m leaning toward the latter yitzok words because the argument about forgiveness is continuing even though we’re apart.
I play both sides now.