Shana Tova?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shana Tova!  (Happy New Year).  Today is Rosh Hashana - the Jewish New Year, symbolized by the sweetness of apples dipped in honey.  Wishes for a beautiful and sweet new year.  All week, friends and colleagues have been sending out mass emails wishing me (and everyone) a SHANA TOVA!  Every time I open one of those emails, my skin crawls.  A colleague of mine told me a few months before Max died that the year between Max's first birthday and his second would be the best year of our lives, at least that had been his experience with his two boys.  It was just a wonderful time of watching your baby turn into a child.  He said it was awesome.  Oh, I KNEW it was going to be awesome.  I couldn't wait.  Could anything really be better than what I had already experienced?  Instead of this being the best year of my life, this is the worst...and so MUCH worse than I could have ever imagined.  In a million years, I could have never imagined that life could be this cruel to me....and I knew that eventually my parents would die and that I would be unimaginably sad, I knew that I would lose friends - that some would die before me (I already have lost friends), I knew that I could lose Ted or that it was possible that I could get sick and even die before "my time".  Everyone of these things would rip me to shreds.  Please!  I can't live with any more tragedy....it would be the end of me.  But, this?  This is SO MUCH worse than I could EVER have imagined.  This year I will not be dipping any apples into honey.  I feel like dipping cardboard into cigarette ashes and taking a big bite....that would better capture my mood.

We are going to synagogue today.  I have to say there is something completely repelling about going to a house of worship to praise g-d and ring in the new year!  ICK.  I thought about boycotting.  Thing is, I get to say the Mourner's Kaddish (a prayer of mourning) for Maxie.  That does resonate with me.  Somehow I think that is what services will be for me going forward....a long ICK full of old prayers that used to melodically roll off my tongue, but which I will now just sit through so that I can say the Mourners Kaddish for my son.  The whole ritual reduced to one prayer of remembrance and love for my beloved.  Look, I know it is too late.  You've probably already put your cards in the mail, I am likely on some list you have of "Jews" who should hear "Shana Tova" from you.  But, I want to be clear - this Shana (year) is not looking so Tova (good).  For the most part, it is a nightmare.  I'm thinking that perhaps there will be moments of "so-so" or even hours of "not horrific".  One friend actually wrote to me and said, "I know it would be obscene to wish you a Happy New Year".  Instead, she wished me a year of maybe better sleep.  True - to wish us a "Shana Tova" is somewhat obscene.

Look, a lot can happen in a year - in this past year, Max was born and died.  I won't rule out something good, or even joyful.  I know that even my prayers can't help us to avoid potential tragedy but THERE JUST CANNOT BE ANYTHING MORE.....THERE JUST CANNOT BE.  Maybe a new baby will be born this year.  Maybe we can start to remember how to be happy again.  But, our backdrop is NOT "Tova"...not to get all Obama on your ass, but I think "Hope" is the better adjective.  Fact is that it is the first year without Maxie, our first year of grieving, starting with his upcoming birthday which so conveniently falls on Erev Yom Kippur.  It is just too soon to think about a Shana Tova.  Much too soon for all that.  This Rosh Hashana doesn't mark the beginning of a new year for us.  It marks the beginning of our very deeply felt grief.  Grief that in one shape or another will last for the rest of our lives.

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