Tuesday will be the end of shloshim for my brother, the traditional thirty days of mourning. I am sad in short bursts now, mostly during services when I think of, see, or read about family, any kind of family. I remember how small mine is, and remind myself of the wonderful connections that remain--most stronger than what existed between my brother and I. But I still mourn the fact that another part of myself and my story, and my parents' stories, is gone. I dwell on this pain for a few moments, and move on. The interval between pain and good, deep breaths increases daily. I've gone back to the gym; music no longer makes me want to hide. Later today I'm going to the bris of a new cousin. Someone leaves the world, someone else enters.
But thirty days still seems like an arbitrary number. Maybe that's the point--there is no logical time frame in which to jump full force back into life. One must be pushed, like a fledgling from a next, because remaining in pain is too easy. This past Shabbat I attended a beautiful Minha/Havdalah service at my synagogue, which helped make Shabbat a truly immersive experience. There is nothing better than services in the morning followed by an afternoon of lunch, nap, studying my next Torah portion, and then reuniting with my community to bid farewell to a perfectly relaxing day. When it came time to recite the Mourner's Kaddish, however, I was the only one who stood. Again, as at the shiva minyan, my voice spoke alone except for a few communal lines reminding me I had company, and always will. But I thought of that first weekend when I davened alone in silence, the peace of being apart from any eyes except God's, and wished for solitude. Even though I knew I would fully rejoin the camp in three days, standing by myself still felt like an open wound.