Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Jewish Days of Awe, Death of a Parent and a Conundrum of Conscience

Right now I am sitting in my parents house waiting for my mother to wake up. Tonight I will be going home to my own family. Leaving her all alone, except for her dog. Of course this would not be a big deal, or rather it would be a deal of some kind simply because she would be all alone, but tonight is the beginning of the Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashanah, so for me it is a bit of a bigger deal than usual. It has only been one month since my father died and this is the first big holiday to come along. So why am I leaving you ask?

Well its important that I go home and be with my family for the holiday. Not that we truly celebrate in a traditional sense, but it essential that the boys appreciate their heritage. I try to make a special meal and we do prayers at home. Hubby is picking up what we need today while I am traveling. And no, mom does not want to come back up north with me....We talk about guilt and we talk about reality. This is when the guilt kicks in and reality is tough to deal with. You don't have to tell me its ok or that my mother understands. She does and I know its OK. I am just venting my own guilt right now. See this guilt is not about my mother it is about me, all me, all the time and no one else.

But hey, I accompanied her to her colonoscopy, a simple check up that she needed. (If you are over 50 make sure you get yourself tested and if there is a history of colon cancer in your family do it sooner) I also got her to trade in her old car (14 years old) and get a new one that didn't seem like it would blow up any time soon. I was driving this olden car back from her doctors and I swear to God I only prayed we didn't burst into flames.

Upon arriving back to my parents house, thankfully in one piece, I immediately went on the internet and found car dealerships in the area. I told her we were gong to go look and see what they were going to give us for her car. Well I thought we would pick something out. They would do a credit check and a few days later they would have a car for her. Oh now, I was NOT going to let her leave that dealership without signing some papers for a new auto. UHAH I knew if I did not have her do that with me there and then, she would never go back and get a new car. Well six hours late after arriving at the dealership, she actually drove her new red sportscar home. (I guess some things are really "beshert." English translation, fated) And yes, lo and behold, they even gave us some money on her old car as a trade-in. I truly thought they were going to ask for payment to have it towed away. Honestly...the darn thing was scary.

I suppose I can leave with a bit of a clear conscience that she will not die in a firey car wreck or that her car will self combust in her garage, burning down her house. I can leave with the clear mind that she is safe in her vehicle. I can leave knowing that I will also be back in a few weeks time too.

Holidays are funny things. They are either joyous or thought provoking. Sometimes both. Jewish New Year is about reflection upon your life and what you can do to be a better person. We always ask the boys how they can do better in their lives and what that is and how they think they might accomplish their task ahead. Of course, they play along, but not totally sure that they think they need to change all that much. That is fine. At least they think about it and how we, as human beings, are not and never will be perfect. Our task is simply to try our best at being better.

No we don't go to synagogue. We resigned from our Temple years ago. We don't even pray beyond the few little prayers at home. We celebrate as a family in our own way as we have done for over a decade now. It makes us happy. I do not need to represent on any holiday. I do not need to dress up and make a show of it on any holiday. My thoughts are between me and God, if he in truth does exist.

It's funny really. We talk on Rosh Hashanah that God should write us in the Book of Life for a good year. I was trying to figure out what little blurb he wrote for my father last year that he should die in pain from unmanaged lung cancer. I wonder what the story was there, that my father wasn't entitled to some form of comfort in those last three months of his life. Personally I wonder what the hell is wrong with God anyway....

So not sure I care about the Book of Life right now or God or Rosh Hashanah truly beyond reminding my sons who they are and where they come from. I do feel disconnected from everyone but my family. I feel solitary and alone in many ways too. Unable to stop or have any bearing on a world I see spiraling out of control, with no one of any capacity really at the helm...When a parent dies you reevaluate so much of your life and I know for me it is just beginning....I wonder what will be in the year to come.....What frightens me is that I see dark clouds on the horizon...a gathering storm. There is nothing any Book of Life can do about that.

But we celebrate the seasons. We celebrate the milestones. We celebrate the joys and the beginning of new life. We celebrate because there will always be a future no matter what.

So to my Jewish and non-Jewish readers too: a Shanah Tovah Umetuka..may you have a Happy and Sweet New Year. May God write you in the Book of Life for a good and happy year.

Until next time,