I have always been a bit of math geek. In high school, I used to entertain my classmates by solving math problems in my head before my teacher could complete them on the board. While living in Israel, I would switch KPH signs into MPH using both 3/5 and 5/8. Nowadays, as a runner, I always have to finish my workout at an even number. There is something comforting about numbers, at least for me.
Not all things can be expressed in numbers. Today is the last day of the 11 month period after the passing of my mom that I need to say Kaddish (a prayer said by mourners). Additionally, as I have mentioned before, I attempted to lead prayers at least once a day during this time. Today, that streak comes to an end. I have probably recited Kaddish over 2,000 times over the past year and led prayers between 300-400 times. Somehow this feels bigger than a number though, something that is not easily quantified.
During these past 11 months, I have found myself wondering about what effect, if any, my prayers were having; on myself, on my mom and/or on the world. I have tried to figure out whether my need to lead prayers everyday was about my mom, G-d or some narcissistic need on my part, to go beyond what was expected of me as a mourner. Perhaps it was an attempt, with no other way of doing so, to prove my worthiness as a son. Maybe it was an attempt to hold onto my mom, as her memory fades from my mind, a futile refusal to let go. Without fully grasping why I have been doing what I have been doing, I have exerted great effort to keep the streak going. I have felt great stress on days when I thought it would stop. I can’t tell you why, but I had to do this.
I have one month left as a mourner. One month left to express grief, to feel sorry for myself, to feel different. Right now, as I am about to lose one more connection with my mom, it seems right that it is grey and overcast today. I started out my existence with my mom carrying me for nine months. I have tried during the last 11 months to carry her for a bit longer.