Being sad is exhausting. I am sort of halfway sitting shiva; I can't afford to not work for a week, and without other mourners around it would feel hollow. But people, an awful lot of people, will be here for a few hours on Wednesday and I'll cover up the mirrors, put out a tray of cookies, and have a minyan. I never imagined such a thing would take place in my home. My parents, the likely candidates, have been gone for awhile, and my brother was supposed be like the other men on that side of the family and live forever. (My father, who drank and smoked and ate heaping plates of greasy food, wasn't sick a day in his life and died at 93. The house painter, I learned, made it to 97.)
Meanwhile, I hope I can concentrate a little between now and then. Being self-employed can suck at times like this. My clients are very understanding, but getting paid still requires that I actually finish their projects. And I really need to get paid.
The universe did oblige in a few ways. I'm sorry I missed doing my part for yesterday's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, but the holiday also meant I could take a day off along with the rest of the business world. I was also supposed to read Torah this coming Thursday and Shabbat. Oddly, I wasn't having much fun learning the portion; the process seemed more dutiful than usual. Then I got an email from the cantor last Wednesday wondering how far I'd gotten, because the tutor of the bar mitzvah boy wanted to read, too. But if I had learned it already, no problem--the other guy would be out of luck, not a big deal. Not once in the six years I've been chanting have I gotten such a request. I replied, early Thursday morning, that I knew most of it but would be fine with giving someone a chance who didn't get to read very often, and so wasn't as lucky as I.
Then I went to a diner for a quick breakfast, and got the phone call. I packed up my omelet, came home and cried, and sent another email: please do ask the tutor to take over. I think God knew in advance that I'd need a break.
I didn't go to services this past Shabbat, but davened alone at home, instead. It was really nice and peaceful. As much as I needed to be with friends, I also craved quiet and couldn't image hearing music, let alone singing it. Later today I'll drag myself to the gym for the first time in ages, in hopes that exercise will give me some strength to deal with the rest of the week. It should be a quiet one, beginning with great joy, which I pray will push this year into a different and better lane than the one it seems to be careening down.