Friday, September 15, 2017
1003. #BlogElul 13: Remember
A few years ago I was asked to sing Psalm 23 after Yizkor at Yom Kippur services. (Usually the more senior leaders or real cantorial students do this, but there were none around that particular day.) I was nervous—not because of the singing part, but the emotional. I have many people to think of at Yizkor. More of my family is no longer on this earth than are. The remembering part of Yizkor is what makes the prayer meaningful for me, and I didn't want to bypass that so I could focus completely on singing. But of course I didn't want to screw up the singing because I wasn't concentrating.
I decided to just let the moment happen, and trust that my brain and heart would find the right direction.
I had four uncles, my mother's four older brothers, who all died by the time I was 18. I have very strong memories of them all, even though two died before I was 6: Ruby, dark, quiet, and always smiling. Charlie, sandy-haired, a little louder, a font of funny malapropisms. Moe, proud businessman with a voice like Archie Bunker's, minus the politics, thank goodness ("my little goil!"). And last but not least, Ben, the oldest and quietest, who offered few words in his soft, gravelly voice, and loved me fiercely.
And for some reason, even though their existence has seemed almost mystical for many years—did they really exist, or did I dream them through my mother's stories?—I suddenly felt them next to me at the bima, two on each side. Memories became as close to flesh as possible, just at that moment when I needed someone to put a hand on my shoulder. They remained there throughout the song, making sure I wasn't alone.