April 13, 2006

A promise fulfilled

I have fulfilled my promise and played my role in the unbroken covenant dating back 3500 years to Abraham. My son has had his bris. He did beautifully, although my father had to be cautioned by the mohel to hold the boy's legs more firmly and a bit more carefully. The boy is rather strong, according to the mohel.

The attendance was low but the important ones managed to come.

I wore my grandfather's yarmulke for the ceremony. It was the first time I had put it on, ever. My grandmother had made it for him. He wore it all the time I knew him. The cantor said it was Bukharan in style, which I did not know. It was a difficult moment for me. The bris for the boy named for my grandfather and my wearing his yarmulke. I took it out of his tallis bag and closed the bag up. I had been delaying, coming up with reason after reason to avoid taking possession of these things from my mom. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. But I wore it.

After the bris, we hung it with our guests and then went for a long lunch at our old beach club. The kids frolicked on the lawn next to the ocean. It was a spectacular day. I drove everyone back home for a little while and we returned to Westchester that evening for the Seder.

The Girl Child sang the four questions in Hebrew. She's five years old. She is now officially more accomplished than I am.

We didn't get home from the Seder until almost 10:00. We were all terribly tired. The children had not napped and I have not had a complete night's sleep in days, if not longer. I put them to bed and went to my room to unpack from the day.

It had been a momentous day. We welcomed our son into the world in a spiritual, ritual way and we celebrated the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It was quite a day.

I opened my grandfather's tallis bag to replace within it his, now my, yarmulke. I don't know why I did the following, what prompted me to do this, but I put my face to his tallis bag and inhaled.

He has been dead since December, my beloved grandfather. I miss him more than I can possibly relate. I thought I was doing better with his death.

But the tallis bag. Oh, my. The bag smelled of him. I could smell his particular scent in it still. The scent I used to smell when I hugged him or sat next to him. I can't describe it but it was ineluctably his, this scent. I closed the bag immediately and began to struggle not to cry. It was such a blow, such an unexpected punch to suddenly find him there in that bag, there in the room with me. I shut the bag quickly so I could, as if I really could, preserve the smell, not expose it to air, bottle it for later, hold on to that dear man for a little bit longer.

Right now, the scent was too much for me. I'm not going to tell my mother or uncles about it, I don't think. Maybe later it will be a comfort to me but right now that faint scent is overwhelming.

I miss him so much that I have given my son his name. Although, right now, I have difficulty calling my son by his given name. Instead, I call him by the nickname my daughter has bestowed upon him and I find that easier.

I'm going to hug that bag to my chest, you know, and pray for the time that it becomes a comfort to me and not a trial.

Posted by Random Penseur at April 13, 2006 01:23 PM | TrackBack

Sometimes, it seems our greatest hurts or tests can become (or already are) gifts of great worth. My thoughts are with you.

Posted by: Mandalei at April 13, 2006 02:28 PM

Oh RP. That's is beautiful and tragic.

It is so sad that we lose the things we love. The only thing we have to hold onto are the memories. And sometimes those hurt to hold onto.

My thoughts are with you too.

Posted by: Zya at April 13, 2006 06:02 PM

Wow! Just...wow! I'm glad you wrote this down. It is such a celebration of life. You have taken my breath away.

Posted by: Linda at April 14, 2006 09:06 AM

Darling, you are celebrating a ritual as old as time -- the mourning of one life passed on and the birth of a brand new one. "Celebrating" might not feel like the right word -- for now -- but it is appropriate, I think.

I know your beloved grandfather would approve.

We all want to make a difference in the time we have here on this earth, and it is apparent to me that your grandfather accomplished quite a lot just by loving you and being loved by you. A gentle heart such as yours is a fine treasure, indeed.

It is as you said: someday this feeling will be a comfort to you but right now the pain (and responsibility) is too fresh.

I hope that when you reach that point you will write of it and share the beauty of your heart with us, again.

All my love to you and yours,

Posted by: Margi at April 14, 2006 10:37 AM

Oh RP. I so relate. I took some of my mom's clothes home with me after she passed away, some nightgowns that she would wear. Not the sheer kind; maybe housegowns? Anyway, I put them into a drawer and didn't open that drawer for a long time. One day, I was rummaging about and I found the gowns.

I did the same thing you did; lift one up and inhaled it and yes, her scent was still there. I cried and cried into the gown.

I still have them. I wonder if after all these years, they will still have her scent. I'm almost afraid to check. Probably not. But I still have them and I'm glad I did that. {{{{hugs to you}}}} Very glad you named the New Addition after your grandfather. It is a wonderful tribute. :-)

Posted by: Amber at April 14, 2006 11:06 AM
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