I don't like this holiday. I don't want to be reminded of misery or read about pain and hatred. I know the day is supposed to bring strength and resolve to face truth and repair brokenness, but I don't need to set aside time to see the real world. It's there as soon as I open the paper or step over the homeless person on my corner. I try to do my part, and when that doesn't work, to hide behind my comfortable life, but brokenness sneaks up on me just the same.
Each cry and murder of Eikha last night felt like a weight crushing my chest; I could barely catch my breath by the time I had to chant chapter 4. Eikha always makes me sad, but I can usually separate the personal from the global. Not this year. My sister-in-law is dying, not over some vague, people rally all the time as long as you believe in miracles time frame, but this summer. It feels obscene to type the words. We're not close, but the pain of my niece, my dearest relative, is unbearable to witness and even less fun to re-live. Sometimes it really sucks to be an adult, to know from experience the blackness of loss and need to crawl through the mud until you surface, bleeding, on the other side. I would much rather say la la la la we can't hear you and let's run away to Tahiti, but I can't.
Still, my sister-in-law and I aren't close, and the awful thought is just an occasional intrusion. But last night Jerusalem broke into big pieces, then smaller pebbles, and then the dust of a single life, and I tried to distract my eyes but the words on the page made my voice shake and my breath a whisper. Afterwards I wondered if the problem was just stage fright with extra, added melodrama, but singing had never before made me feel so raw. On Yom Kippur we rend our clothing in a big, public production, knowing full well that a reprieve will come at sundown. On Tisha be-Av, an ordinary, private day, the only promise is uncertainty. I don't like this holiday.
I feel a little better now. I still do believe that our default state is happiness, and everything else--war, death, stupid presidents, the words of Eikha--are shorts in the wiring. I think God knew better than to put us here to be miserable. I hope this evening's words, the haftarah, will feel like salve for the raw wound of last night.