Anniversaries

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My dad called me on Sunday to tell me that he had figured out that that day was Maxie's Yarzheit (anniversary of passing or "angel date") according to the Jewish Calendar.  We lit a candle that evening to honor the date.  As a Jew, I "get" twice the "anniversaries"...the Jewish calendar runs on the lunar year, the secular calendar runs on the solar year (that is why Jewish holidays fall on a different date every year).  I already have two dates to dread in the secular calendar - July 19th: the day that Ted and I actually believe that Max's soul left his body (and the day that the nightmare began) and July 21st: the day that we had to take him off life support and have his body die in our arms.  My dad asked if we wanted to go to temple with him on Friday night.  Temple was not a comfort to me at all on the high holidays.  In fact, it was a place that I felt totally betrayed.  I am afraid of going back to a house of worship when I am worried that god is mad at me.

I know that hanging on to anniversaries is superficial in some ways. He is gone EVERY day.  But, our lives changed forever on those dates.  I couldn't get them out of my mind if I tried.  An old friend that I worked with long ago lost her husband on 9/11 and had a baby a few days later.  I read that just this past year, they held her son's birthday party on 9/11, even though it coincided with the anniversary of her first husband's death.  It was time to focus on the living, she said.  I don't think it meant that she "forgot", in fact I think it meant she made a conscious choice that probably had as much meaning as focusing rituals on her husband's death would have on that day.  It was something that took ten years to happen.

Anniversaries are celebrated for a reason - birthdays, anniversaries of loss, even holidays.  We take a time out to celebrate a special life, to remember a particularly tough loss, to honor our parents, to be extra grateful.  July 19th should, in our family, be a day to celebrate my mother-in-law - it's her birthday.  And, July 20th, that terrible day in between, is my dad's birthday.  I apologized to my dad on Sunday that Max's death had to coincide with his special day.  I feel so guilty that we will be thinking of our horror and loss on such important and happy occasions.  I have no interest in memorializing the anniversary of Maxie's funeral, but that also fell on a few birthdays - my mom's boyfriend, Ken's, and Ted's cousin, Miriam's.  I feel guilty knowing that they spent their birthday at a baby's funeral.  My baby's funeral.  One of my best friends from high school lost her brother on their dad's birthday.  He had just gotten off the phone from wishing his dad a Happy Birthday when he got into a fatal car accident.  It all just adds insult to injury.  I worry about Baby M sharing a birthday with one of these dates.  I know there is nothing I can do.

In Israel, on days of remembrance, a loud siren is blasted throughout the entire country.  For a full minute, everything stops (especially remarkable in a place like Israel, where people hardly EVER stop).  Cars pull over to the side of the road and most people get out of them, people stop pushing and talking to each other, pedestrians stand in place with their heads bowed, phones stop ringing - EVERYTHING stops - for a full minute - because they recognize that even if just for one minute in time, there is nothing else that matters except to remember.  So, while every day I am missing Maxie, I do believe there is a point in carving out a time, on the anniversary of a day that changed our lives forever - a day where the world crashed in on us - to just remember.  He was our little boy.  He meant everything in the world to us.  He is now gone.  We will miss him eternally.

1 comment:

Becca said...

Yes. I don't know if it makes it better or worse (if there is anything that could make it better or worse) that these anniversaries fall during/close to tisha b'av and the period of intense mourning of all the Jewish people. I have watched videos of the sirens in Israel and I think it is very powerful for us to all stand together as a people and remember. I think of your Maxie every day. I am wishing you strength and peace as you go through these awful anniversaries.

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