A New Year

The Jewish High Holidays are a time for reflection, renewed commitment to spirituality and community, and without a doubt - for me at least - a time that I can't help but overthink the meaning of everything that has happened, everything that is, and all that will be.

Before losing Max, Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) wasn't too much different than the secular New Year for me.  It was a good time to put together some basic resolutions, get together with friends and family, and reflect on the year that had just passed.  Not to mention that the fasting holiday of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) a week later is a perfect kick off to losing the next 10 pounds (Am I right? - You know I am).

This year, we are in a new place (to me at least) and we are new members of a new synagogue.  Ted had to work on Rosh Hashana, so I went to services alone - well, alone with 3 kids.  I dropped Myla and Mo in the child care room to do art projects and play with other kids while Macie and I went to pray - or, probably more accurate - reflect.

The reading for Rosh Hashana is the story of G-d asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, at Mt. Moriah. By any interpretation, it is a shocking text - even when G-d finally tells Abraham he can put down the knife because he was only being tested.  It's hard not to wonder what kind of a G-d would test a man's faith by asking him to sacrifice his own child. G-d asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac because he knows that there is nothing more precious to a parent than his/her own child.  (How is it possible that anyone could still think otherwise?)

It's impossible for me not to make parallels to our own story of losing Max and wonder what G-d's role in his death must have been. I do sometimes wonder if we are being tested - if this could possibly be G-d's way of seeing whether we can handle this, whether we will become more or less faithful, whether we will become bitter or enlightened.  But, I realize that I am giving myself WAY too much credit when I start thinking like this.  I am not Abraham - and my child was not spared. And, then the finality of it - the sick realization that my son is never coming back (which I know I SHOULD realize by now - but I still kind of don't), becomes real once again. This leads to the next set of thoughts, which roll around and around a kind of fatalist set of beliefs that don't serve me at all:
  • There is no meaning in our lives
  • Whether we are "good" or "bad" has no impact at all on what is to become of us in this lifetime
  • Do we all just return to dust in the ground?
  • Etc, etc, etc......
Depressing.  I am sure you can tell by now that these holidays weigh heavily on my soul - as do so many things - birthdays, anniversaries, "firsts" that will never be. 

In a few weeks (October 7), Max would be turning five.  FIVE.  I see photos of my friend's children who were supposed to be Maxie's lifelong friends, and they are almost five, and I cannot relate or understand or shake the shock from my brain. Max would be in Kindergarten.  I try not to think about it too much - but holy shit - MAX WOULD BE FIVE.  It's so effing unfair, it takes my breath away.

In the weeks leading up to Max's past birthdays, I've been busy putting together invitations to his Birthday Benefit, collecting silent auction items, pestering people to come to the fundraiser that I am putting together in his honor.  I tell everyone about the activities I've planned - art projects for kids, beer and food and drinks, superheroes, awesome auction items....  You'd think that the whole exercise was giving me a sense of purpose to pour myself into - but I think you'd be somewhat mistaken. 

There will be no Birthday Benefit this year - and it is in large part because we moved, and we have three little ones, and I don't have the network here that I had in LA, or the perfect spot to throw a great fundraising party. I still feel deeply committed to the work of First Candle and I am grateful for the support that they have given me over these past few years.  But, I am also happy to have the excuse not to plan this year.  Because it takes so much out of me emotionally, and running around with a big smile on my face during an event memorializing my child feels somewhat inauthentic to me.  I hope that it will change with time but I just cannot be sure.

What I know is this - not doing an event does not mean I am over it, or getting past it, or so focused on my living children that I have forgotten about my beloved first.  No.  I am still longing, missing, and questioning all of the time. Always hanging on to the hope that there is meaning in this loss - and that someday we will be together again. 


jessica said...

It is wildly unfair. I think about Maxie daily and wonder what he would be like and what he and Evi would be up to together. It's heartbreaking that he isn't here with you guys, and with us. It will never be okay or right or fair. We will continue to support First Candle this year and we will spend October 7 remembering and loving your beautiful first born, Maxie. He is always, always in our hearts and minds and he is ever so missed. Love you all. xo

Egreeno said...

I just opened an email to send you a note because I've been thinking so much about Maxie and you and Ted as his birthday approaches. I opened the blog to see a few pictures before I continued my message and here was your post answering many of the questions I was posing to you. It's still unbelievable that Maxie is not here and that you must spend his birthday remembering rather than celebrating. Devastating, unfair . . . our language, these words, are not enough. Like Jess, we'll continue supporting first candle and will be remembering Maxie more than ever on his birthday. Love you!

Jayden's Mommy said...

I been thinking a lot about Maxie lately. Specially since I know October 7th will be here so soon. And yes these dates weigh heavy on us. Abby I know one day we will see Maxie. God Promised a ressurection. I know I would hold Jayden. We love you, and it's the only thing that helps me keep going knowing we would see our boys. Much love Kira