A Life, A Year

hourglass and calendar
Such  are the fleeting days of life…and death.
 
That window between a final breath…
 
…And making all the necessary arrangements,
then rending your clothing
and throwing a handful of dirt into an open grave upon the cue of a rabbi,
afterwards returning home to eat bagels and eggs, while sitting on a low hard chair
and murmuring in hushed tones,
the mirrors and reflective surfaces around you now covered by bed sheets.
 
And lighting a memorial candle, its wick and flame a body and soul,
the flame reaching upwards, to bring light into darkness.
And recalling aloud – and silently – for the next seven days
the person for whom you are observing this ages-old custom
of sitting, and mourning, and remembering,
hoping to elevate the soul of the dearly departed.
 
And trying to follow the rules.
Do not say hello. Do not say goodbye. Do not say thank you for coming.
Do say Kaddish, the Mourners’ Prayer.  Converse with God while honouring the deceased.
And repeating. Again and again. Until the week is over.
And then getting up and walking around the block, the formality of shiva completed.
It is time to re-engage with society,
time to move forward…
The loved one’s absence has become the new presence.  Saying Kaddish is the new norm.
And the days pass. And it’s already the shloshim.
And the months pass.
And the eleventh month has come and gone – and the daily recitation of Kaddish with it.
And the twelfth month is here.
The anniversary date of death.
A Yahrzeit candle is lit. Kaddish is recited.
A year has passed…
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