(Written Weds., 8/21)
It’s been a distracting few weeks, and writing has felt like plowing through mud. I write this on an airplane, just a few days after digging my toes in the sand of one joyous beach at a friend’s wedding, and now headed towards another beach whose ocean will mingle with tears. My sister-in-law passed away on Monday, accompanied by the whispers of her daughters telling her how much she was loved. Last weekend I packed somber clothing next to the flowery dress in my suitcase, in case I had to leave mid-celebration. But God listened to my selfish prayer and waited a day so I could go home, shift gears and (at the last minute) learn El Maleh Rahamim, which I will offer tomorrow morning if I can manage to sing though tears. (My iPod, repository of the the cantor’s God- channeling voice singing this prayer, froze on the plane. In the terminal between connecting flights, I went online to figure our how to un-freeze it. I did, and then discovered the battery had drained. So I ran into an airport Brookstone, gadget heaven, and bought a universal iPod charger. Now I can practice by singing along with the cantor. Thank you, miracle of technology.)
My sister-in-law’s death is unbearably sad, and a few days ago I could barely think. As I’ve posted, we weren’t very close; I mourn the loss of shared history even more than her presence. I guess this happens when you get older. People die, and eventually you’re the only repository of your memories. As the week progressed, however, and I joined my friends at their wedding in a declaration of hope and love, I was reminded that God is pretty efficient. God fills up the gaps: someone leaves, someone else returns. Our lives are about gathering threads both new and old, like the corners of a tzitzit, and drawing them close.