Yes, I’m back and as I think about praying I’m remembering the process…
When you died of at the end of March, I thought long and hard about a way to best mourn your passing and keep you close to me and I did consider daily praying within the Jewish tradition but in all the years of our friendship I never felt that religion played an active role in you life. Maybe it did, but I don’t remember ever having a conversation in that area and when I tried the Mourner’s Kaddish prayer on for size, it just didn’t seem to fit.
So I turned to my blog and to writing and a daily conversation with you that I could share with the rest of the world as well, now that felt right, not that you ever considered blogging but writing was a center piece of you life and we spent many hours talking about writing and everything else, so I just kept our conversations going on my side. No, I don’t create a conversation every day, but I think about one. Sometimes it sees the light of day and sometimes not but I feel the best when it does get to page, so here I am sharing it a day before it will be out into the world.
When my mom died just before her 94th birthday, in early July, the ritual of daily prayer was the clear course and my brothers took up the tradition as well: Jeff back home in Ellenville, Rick in Israel and me, here in Nyack, just over the Hudson River. When my mom’s parents died, she immediately grabbed for her prayer book.
The Mourner’s Kaddish is a short prayer. It’s recited by the immediate family members for the first 11 months, during the mourning period. I recite it privately, when I wake up and before I turn in for the day. My brother Rick joins a group of fellow mourners at his place of work each day for the fuller service.
It’s a short prayer with no mention of death in it. Sometimes I wish it were longer. Sometimes I recite it when I am driving, sometimes as I make the bed in the morning, when I prepare the livingroom for the next morning, sometimes more formally, standing still with the small prayer book pictured above, the prayer book I received when I graduated from Hebrew School in 1962. It hasnt been used too often before now, but it has traveled with me from home to college and then to my homes. It’s lived proudly on bookcases for display with the special books and now it’s off the shelves that gathered dust and actively with me each day remembering my mom. I think she would love it that all three of her kids are keeping her alive in a traditional way, and using the Sidur I was given, that would make her tear up.