Snowy Shabbat

originally published: 2012-01-24

Friday January, 13th

Once home, I lit the Shabbat candles, and tried to settle down. I sort of felt I’d violated the spirit of Shabbat several times, in different ways that night. Starting with turning on my computer to print off Graham’s GURPSelot set parameters so I could bring down the lego and start working on it.

I put about four hours into lego construction, and then decided to just veg on the computer for a bit until shul.

January 14th, 2012 (Saturday)

I got ready for shul, and headed out. On the way to the synagogue, I passed a working woman, or escort, on the corner of Kingsway and Windsor. It struck me that it was an unlikely time and place for her to be advertising her wares, but there she was. She was very tall. I found myself thinking about the irony of us crossing each other – here I am, on my way to shul, and here she is, working her corner. It’s less of a judgement than an acknowledgement of direction – where was she headed? Where am I?

The services went well, Reb. Laura and Charles were both back from their trip now, and Laura went around greeting people. There was a funny moment where she went to shake my hand, and I went to hug her, and she sort of said, “Oh, I guess we can hug,” and I hugged her and told her, “Welcome home.”

My star shaker, as I have come to call it, worked beautifully. I got several people glancing over their shoulders at me, trying to make out where the sound was coming from, not hostile or annoyed, just curious. Afterwards, I showed it to Charles and Laura, and they seemed to approve.

Karen and her friend Shaira were there again, both in suits and kippah. They came in late, but stayed for Kiddush. This time I got a chance to talk to them, and found out that Karen was coming to say the Mourner’s Kaddish for her father, who died on Dec. 17th, the same day as Amanda. On that day, Karen had gotten a call and spent all that day and most of the next trying to get home to Toronto, and the funeral was on the 19th. He’d had a sudden heart attack, apparently.

Sharia was there partly as moral support, and also partly looking for answers. Her own wife had died two years ago in a plane crash. She asked me if it was OK she’d told Reb. Laura that she doesn’t believe in G-d. I told her I though the rabbi would be fine with it – and recommended Reb. Laura’s blog, which is as much generically spiritual as it is Faith.

After the nosh, on the walk home, I reflected that both Karen’s father, and Amanda died on the same Shabbat, a day which turned out to be their day to finally rest and return. I thought about how if Life and the Sabbath are G-d’s gifts, than Death, in part, is his promise – that if we make a proper go of it here, if we celebrate the lives we have been granted, then our reward will be our final rest, and our opportunity to return to Him.

It seemed fitting somehow that both should have died on the holiest day of the week. That those of us who are left behind are not alone, but are blessed with the gift of the Seventh Day to put aside the week, and reflect on those who were so important to us, and who are, at least temporarily, gone from our sight.

Death itself is also one of our greatest illusions – since it is only from our own limited perspectives that they appear gone – like the out-of-sight, out-of-mind, peek-a-boo games from early childhood development, the mother knows her face still exists behind her hands. As they know they are still there beyond the veil.

I found a similar sentiment shared by someone who lost a sister-in-law over the Christmas Holidays.

But yet, I see purpose here, too. There is a bond that Karen and I now share, and there exists a reason why we have come together again, and why now. I think she may have felt at the time that I had a bit of a crush on her, when we were working on my writing together, although that wasn’t the case (much too butch for my tastes), but there’s opportunities for collaboration again. I’m sure it will reveal itself in the fullness of time, but for the nonce we can lend each other support, and to her friend, also.

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