With the setting of the sun on Friday night, I completed the 12 month mourning period for my mom. It was a moment for which I’ve been waiting for a very long time, at moments yearning desperately for it. It is difficult to describe how it felt. Not surprisingly (To a hammer, everything is a nail) I felt in a way like I was crossing the finish line at the end of a race.
Of course that comparison only goes so far. In a race, the goal is to go as fast as possible, in order to finish in the shortest possible time. In this case, there was nothing I could do to effect the passage of time. Many times, it felt as if time had stopped, as if G-d had somehow slowed the setting of the sun. At times, I wondered whether time was going backwards. During the entire twelve month period, I felt as if I was in a bubble where all sounds from the outside were muffled and those from the inside were intensified. Already hyper sensitive to my feelings, I wanted so badly to shut them off; to drown out their noise. Was this the reason I was forbidden to distract myself by listening to music? To force myself to face my feelings?
There was no training for this race. The fact that I had already been through it with my father did not help. If anything, it made me dread it more. Knowing what was coming in many ways made it worse. Perhaps not always, but sometimes, ignorance is indeed bliss.
When I got home from shul (synagogue) on Friday night, I passed a mirror. I instinctively did a little hand raise, a la Rocky Balboa, similar to what I do when I finish a race. There was a difference though. At races I let out a scream, a bit primal in nature, as I cross, full of joy and relief to be finished, to have reached my goal. I do fell relieved to be done with the mourning and yearn to go back to feeling normal, or at least as normal as I ever feel. Sitting in my regular seat in shul, something off limits to a mourner brought me so much joy, it almost seemed absurd. Is this what it feels like to get out of jail?
I went to a wedding last night and it felt great to hear live music and dance and just be part of crowd. Truth is, even activities that I could do all year, feel different. A walk I took with my wife, as our three youngest children rode on their bikes, was particularly uplifting. Perhaps that is difference from other races. In general when I race, I dress as light and as free as possible. This past year’s race felt so heavy, as if I was carrying someone else with me. I don’t know if it was my mom, or just a heavier version of me. For the first time in what seems like forever, I feel free.