Isn’t there some place in all this atoning where I get to laugh... even just a little? No matter how serious things ever got in this house, all you had to say was "where's the kapporah chicken?" and we started laughing.
I stopped laughing a year ago; I was too numb to confront the holidays with much more than impotent anger. I was too busy trying not to set my hair on fire while trying to figure out how I was going to survive. Nothing prepared me for the reality of widowhood, and while I had a eight weeks to prepare (whereas my cousin Sylvia didn’t even have the space of a heartbeat..and is, therefore, my role model in all things widow weeds) I wailed that it was not enough. That was probably because I was in complete and total denial that this was really going to happen. I believed in the miracle. I believed that we would awaken from the nightmare next to each other in the same bed. I believed we would see in our 75th anniversary together. I believed...I believe.... אני מאמין
Last year, the only thing I atoned for was for not being smart enough to have been on top of what should’ve been my real world.
This year, it was different. Rosh HaShannah crashed into me with the weight of a freight train; I just wasn’t expecting it to be so hard. There was no “do I wear a tie?” debate, and no tayglach or matzah ball jokes. There was no little rush as when I would see him, wrapped in his big Fig-Newton tallis, saunter into the sanctuary, then pause to talk to his buddies before joining the rest of the family in Bud's Rosh HaShannah Row, the same row of seats we always occupy, even without Bud and Steve.
And not even the annual 2nd night dinner at Annie and Peter’s made me feel any better. I stared at the table picture posted on the fridge, the one taken several years ago when we were still all present, and the only thing I felt was disappointment that Steve would not be there to regale us with Steve-ness.
I'm sure there is much to atone for this year. I’m pretty sure I’ve pissed off any number of people. I don’t think I was conscious enough to do it consciously, but if I did offend you, I will try, from the bottom of my heart, not to do it again.
I know I’ve scared more than a few of you, and for that I am truly sorry. Wrapped in my own pain, I probably didn’t come off as completely grounded at all times. And to tell the truth, I probably wasn’t, but it was never my desire to inspire worry. I cannot apologize enough for having my head implanted in such a way that I was looking past my tonsils and out onto the street. Steve called it "auto-cranial proctology." I will try to avoid it this year.
Promising you all that I shan’t screw up again this year would be pointless; I’m sure I will. I just hope that these are a new variety of screw ups and I’m not repeating the same old same old. I shall endeavor to find new and improved ways.
May you all be sealed in the Book of Life for a good, sweet year... גמר חתימה טובה
Tip o’the Week
The hardest thing to do on the planet is to apologize and mean it.
The second hardest thing to do is accept an apology and mean it.
The third? To swing a chicken over you head and not get pecked.
[Note about a Fig Newton tallis: my dad used to tell me that guys who wore those really big prayer shawls on Yom Kippur, a fasting day, were really hiding Fig Newtons underneath them. ~ sjss]